Headlines: November 17th, 2006



The Government believes the tide of waste may have turned with the publication of new figures that show a drop in municipal waste last year of three per cent – the biggest fall on record. The new statistics also reveal that the amount of rubbish sent to landfill sites was down by ten per cent.

That fall in refuse going to landfill, which represents almost two million tonnes of rubbish, goes hand in hand with a big increase in recycling. The amount of material being recycled now stands at 27 per cent, four times higher than it was in 1996-97 and exceeding the Government’s target that a quarter of waste should be dealt with in this way.

Local Environment Quality Minister, Ben Bradshaw, said some local authorities now had recycling rates that were comparable with best practice on the continent. “Reducing waste and increasing recycling is a vital part of our battle against dangerous climate change. The figures show us breaking the link between economic growth and waste growth and represent a tremendous achievement by individuals and local authorities,” he said.In addition to beating recycling targets, waste disposal authorities have also met their limits for the first year of the Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme, which is seen as an important lever for reducing the amount of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill. The Environment Agency has announced that English councils sent 12.4 million tonnes of biodegradable rubbish to landfill last year, an estimated reduction of 1.5 million tonnes in a year.

“The more successful our use of LATS, the better our chances of meeting our 2010 Landfill Directive target of 11.2m tonnes. It’s a target we need to meet or we’ll face fines that ultimately hit the British taxpayer,” Mr. Bradshaw told the annual conference of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee.

He outlined some of the Government’s initiatives to support local authorities in waste management and said sustainable waste management was not a peripheral activity but central to the Government’s environmental vision. Central and local government, he added, could no longer afford to treat it as a Cinderella service.