|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Morley: That is an interesting point, but I shall stick with my assertion: it is outrageous that we should let other countries apply such principles while not applying them ourselves. Incidentally, we want to develop a home-based industry in recycling and alternative use. There is potential for establishing one, and the measures before us are part of that approach.
Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 seek to change the limited exemptions for which the Bill provides to a requirement that all waste collection authorities collect at least two types of recyclate. The exemptions currently in the Bill
Mr. Leigh: I should like to put a point on the record for the sake of local authorities in rural areas. Assuming that the Bill completes its passage and becomes an Act of Parliament, will a very rural authority such as West Lindsey, which currently does not have enough resources even to collect bin liners from people's homesresidents have to put them at the bottom of their drivesbe able to point to the clause and say "This is all very well and we'd like to do it, but we simply cannot afford to do so" in the knowledge that that will be the end of the story?
Mr. Morley: I would not wish to present the matter in that light, which I might say was rather negative. The provisions will encourage local authorities to have the flexibility to apply the waste and recycling measures that are most appropriate in their areas. Indeed, an example from Wales was also cited. It is certainly true that rural areas have particular problemsfor example, small communities and houses with long drives. I have such areas in my constituency, and I know all about the time that it takes to walk up drives to knock on doors and the difficulty of finding people on the electoral roll. However, there can be alternatives. I gave the example of recycling centres that people can travel to; that is more cost-effective. Local authorities should address the issues in the most cost-effective and reasonable way, and they are being given the flexibility to do that.
Joan Ruddock: I am grateful to both hon. Gentlemen. In the case that my hon. Friend mentions, refuse collection already takes place. There is a danger that it may then be argued that it is unreasonable to collect separated rubbish from the same point.
Mr. Morley: My hon. Friend makes a fair point. I do not know whether my example would apply in the constituency of the hon. Member for Mole Valley. It might be possible to have a larger vehicle for the weekly waste collection roundunless the current size is the maximum currently possiblewith separate compartments to allow the normal rubbish collection to go in one compartment and recyclates for separated waste streams in another. That will not work in all areas, but the system can be adapted by local councillors, who are the best people to know about their own particular circumstances and needs. We want to encourage local councils actively to think about solutions, not to say that they are too difficult or expensive.
Mr. Morley: As the hon. Gentleman will know, I cannot comment on any individual councils or their circumstances. [Interruption.] I can comment on the circumstances of my own local council, as I know it pretty wellI would be a poor MP if I did not.
In general terms, the Bill provides flexibility of approach. We as a Government are keen to encourage local councils to address seriously waste minimisation and recycling. Indeed, we are introducing measures such as the Waste and Emissions Trading Bill, which sets targets and caps on landfill. Local councils will have to take that seriously, and they know it. We want good examples to be applied across the country to all councils on the basis of the needs and requirements of their own areas.
Sue Doughty (Guildford): The Minister mentioned the Waste and Emissions Trading Bill, which deals with matters such as biodegradable municipal waste, including composting. We do not yet have a date for its return to this House from Committee. Yesterday, the Leader of the House said that it is in the Lords, which suggests that he is not quite certain of the facts. Can the Minister give us some guidance?
Mr. Morley: I cannot give exact dates, as that is a matter for the business managers and the Leader of the House, but it is a Government Bill, we are committed to it, and it will proceed in due course.
Amendment No. 7[Interruption.] I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Mole Valley is not keen on that. Let us move on to amendment No. 10, which would change the requirement to collect at least two sorts of recyclates separately to only one sort. That is not ambitious in view of the need to reduce waste and encourage recycling, about which I hope all hon. Members agree.
Hon. Members will recall the need to fulfil the landfill diversion directive requirements. We landfill more waste and recycle far less than most of the rest of Europe and we must increase doorstep collection to meet our recycling targets. That is a serious matter. Fifty-eight per cent. of households already have separate collections of at least one sort of recyclate and we must ensure that the Bill helps us to progress.
We considered balance and recognised the need to encourage better performance without allowing collection systems to outstrip markets. We therefore believe that a minimum of two sorts of materials was a fair balance. We hope that many local authorities
Mr. McLoughlin: The Bill deals with the end of the problem. What pressure are the Government putting on companies to use less packaging? That is one of the biggest challenges. Waste collection is the responsibility of local authorities but some people put what appears to be a huge amount of packaging around small items and that is a large part of the problem.
Mr. Morley: I freely acknowledge that. Companies come within the ambit of the packaging directive and there are increasing incentives for them to reduce packaging. They also have to pay landfill tax through commercial waste collections. This week, I saw a waste collection centre in Bristol for trade waste. It charges a slightly lower rate when traders separate the cardboard and packaging, thus enabling recycling to happen. I re-emphasise that waste minimisation is first in the waste hierarchy. That applies to packaging.
We are keen to encourage as many different recyclates as possible. One sort does not go far enough. Amendment No. 6 covers the possibility of listing in the Bill the materials that a local authority should collect separately. We do not believe that it is helpful to be so prescriptive. The market that a local authority can find for the material is what matters. We are giving support to encourage that. The materials that local authorities collect need to adapt to those markets; they will change as technology changes. A list that is appropriate now may not be in future.
We need to ensure that the material is properly recyclable. The Bill states that the material must be capable of being recycled or composted. Whether a material is considered to be of the same type or recyclate as another depends on the way in which it is recycled and used later. For example, we are clear that it is not sufficient for a local authority to collect two colours of glass and count them as two types. However, paper or wood count as two distinct types.
Amendments Nos. 4, 5, 11 and 12 give a range of options for dates. That suggests that the dates for which the Bill provides are about right. The Government would be delighted if authorities could implement the provisions by 2007. There is nothing to stop them doing so if they choose. The fact that 58 per cent. of households already have a doorstep collection of at least one type of recyclate shows that people take the matter seriously. However, it takes time to establish the infrastructure and plans for efficient, successful doorstep collection schemes. Some local authorities may have other means of fulfilling statutory recycling targets. They therefore need time to change them.
Amendment No. 8 would provide that compostable waste was not considered as a type of waste to be collected for recycling. I understood the point about leaves and hedge clippings. There is nothing to stop people composting in their garden. Many people do that, including me. We need to encourage composting, and biodegradable wasteall compostable waste is biodegradableis a vital part of the waste stream to tackle. That is the subject of the landfill directed diversion targets, because biodegradable waste forms methane in landfill sites.
About 65 per cent. of the waste stream is biodegradable, and a large proportion of that is compostable. Compost, when processed, can be beneficial for conditioning the soil. I agree that home composting is important, and this provision should not discourage it. I reassure hon. Members that home composting will not be an alternative to the collection of a recyclate, and we would expect local authorities to promote it as a form of waste minimisation.
New clause 3 would exclude garden waste from the description of household waste in the Bill. This occurs only in the context of its usage in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, where household waste is defined in section 75(5) and (8). The purpose is to ensure that one of the recyclates collected is not garden waste, and I can give some reassurance to the hon. Member for Mole Valley on that point. I understand his concern about this. It is true that, when local authorities provide a separate collection of garden waste, it tends to increase waste arisings, which runs counter to the need to minimise them. However, I am not convinced that we should deal with the issue prescriptively in the Bill.
There are occasions on which the separate collection of garden waste is sustainable. The first choice of method for dealing with such waste would be home composting, but if householders were unable or unwilling to home compost, or if they had reached their capacity, it would be better for this stream to be collected separately. That is because it can then be composted and returned to beneficial use, rather than contributing to the formation of methane in landfill sites. I agree that there always seems to be more waste in separate collections than there would have been in a mixed collection, even when the same amount of home composting is going on.
There is a balance to be struck between increasing waste arising, which is unsustainable, and dealing appropriately with waste. We think that the Bill has struck the right balance. I hope that I have dealt with the amendments in sufficient detail for hon. Members and I encourage the movers of the amendments to withdraw them.