Headlines: October 27th, 2005

The Government is thinking of freezing the recycling and composting targets that local authorities have to meet in 2007-08 at their current levels but a final decision will not be made until the completion of a consultation exercise that has just been launched.Targets, designed to cut the levels of waste being sent to landfill sites, were first set in 2000 and the current aims are due to run until the end of March next year. They are designed to deliver the Government’s overall aim that at least a quarter of household waste should be recycled or composted by this year.

The consultation has been started to collect views on what should happen during 2007-08 only because the current review of the Waste Strategy 2000 is to consider a longer term vision. That review will look more broadly at the future direction of local authorities, wider waste streams and the role of statutory targets.

The options set out in the consultation are to set recycling and composting targets for all local authorities equal to their targets in 2005-06, freezing targets for all councils except those with a current target of 18 per cent – the lowest level – which would be raised to 20 per cent of household waste, setting higher statutory targets and removing the 30 per cent cap on the highest recycling targets which was imposed in December 2004 or, finally, doing nothing.

Local Environmental Quality Minister Ben Bradshaw said his preference was freeze targets for all authorities except those whose current targets were just 18 per cent. “Not only would we maintain the current momentum on recycling and composting but it would also allow us to focus on some of the poorest performing authorities,” he said.

Meanwhile it has been announced that Defra’s Waste Implementation Programme, will run for a further two years. It offers local councils access to information for long-term decision making on procuring new technologies and diverting biodegradable waste away from landfill as well as compiling essential data on waste streams and commissioning research. Local authorities can also get direct support with plans to provide advice to the community and the private sector.