Move beyond recycling for waste reduction, govt told

The government must do more to lead the way on securing waste reduction for Britain, a parliamentary report concludes.

The Lords’ science committee backs the “blunt instrument” of a landfill escalator tax in its report on the issue published today, expressing hope it will encourage businesses to “embrace true waste reduction strategies”.

It says local authorities need to coordinate waste disposal services better and that the design profession may need to be regulated.

But the committee’s main focus is on the government’s own performance, which it says is “vital” towards convincing others that sustainable business models can be created on waste management.

“Although pan-governmental performance on waste reduction has been good, some departments still lag behind and we are concerned that targets are not challenging enough,” the report concludes.

Last November the Local Government Association (LGA) estimated Britain dumps more landfill waste than any other EU member – 22.6 million tonnes in 2005.

To reduce this amount the government needs to move beyond an approach focusing purely on encouraging recycling and cutting household waste, today’s report says.

It adds: “Following their campaign to promote re-use and recycling, the government must now provide clear and consistent signals that waste reduction is a priority.

“Businesses will not invest in sustainable practices unless they are confident of the government’s long-term policies, and consumers will not change behaviours without education or incentives.”

Shadow communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles said: “Labour Ministers seem obsessed with hammering householders with heavy-handed bin taxes, bin fines and bin cuts, despite the fact that domestic rubbish is a small fraction of the total amount that we throw away.”