Focussing on waste

A new report from EEF, Britain’s manufacturers’ organisation, urges the government to take a wider, more strategic view of the UK’s approach to waste management.

The government’s approach to waste management policy is confused and fragmented, lacks strategic vision and needs urgent reform to help industry meet challenging targets for reducing landfill, according to a new report from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.

The report, which is being sent to Ministers ahead of a planned review of the government’s ‘Waste Strategy 2000’ in 2005, urges that clearer lines of responsibility and less duplication in the formulation and delivery of government policy are critical to supporting business efforts to manage waste effectively.

EEF said in a statement that it is urging government to take a wider, more strategic view of the UK’s approach to waste management, to prevent policy clashes such as increasing the requirement to dispose of hazardous waste while limiting the options for doing so. New legislation to recycle batteries, which produce hazardous residue, will soon take hold but the number of landfill sites that can handle such waste has recently been significantly reduced.

EEF is calling for a new strategic advisory panel to review the current and future capabilities of the UK waste management infrastructure, which EEF believes is failing now to cope with an increasing volume of legislative obligations.

Gary Booton, EEF Director of Health Safety and Environment said: “An inadequate policy approach simply adds more pressure to the problem, as we’ve seen before in the domestic sector, with the fridge mountains and with increased local fly tipping.

“Government needs urgently to get a firmer grip on this policy area and, working closely with industry, help manage the costs, provide better incentives and develop new routes for disposal and reuse of waste material.

“Industry is working hard to meet the challenges and develop the opportunities of dealing with responsibly with waste, but without the necessary reforms there are major concerns that our waste management system is ill-equipped and inadequately prepared to deal with this agenda.”

The report also calls on government, and particularly the Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), to work closely with business on developing more incentives to help firms adopt improved waste management policies. It argues that revenues from the Landfill Tax should be targeted on improving the infrastructure for dealing with waste disposal and on investment in process re-engineering and R&D.

Another key point in the report says the government should provide incentives to encourage companies to improve waste management, including grants, new market opportunities, and cheaper fees.

The report adds that the UK should use its forthcoming European Union (EU) Presidency to resolve barriers to re-use and recycling arising from the EU definition of waste. Government should cast the net more widely and ensure all sectors, particularly the domestic sector, contribute proportionately to improved waste reduction.