“One of the biggest economic and environmental challenges we face”

Filed in Blog, Waste News by on June 16, 2010 6 Comments
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Caroline Spelman MP for Meriden talks about waste

Caroline Spelman MP for Meriden talks about waste

One of our readers just gave me the heads up on a speech given yesterday by Caroline Spelman; MP for Meriden, called “Waste – new thinking for a new economy”.

In it she outlines the Government’s approach to waste and urges us to go faster and further towards a zero waste future.

Have a read and let me know what you think.

“Thank you and thanks to everyone here. Today I want to explain the new Government’s approach to waste in the years ahead.

The Prime Minister fired the starting gun when he said he wanted this to be the greenest government ever.

That’s a pretty unequivocal commitment.

In the Coalition Programme, Defra is specifically charged with working towards a zero waste economy, encouraging paying people to recycle and working to reduce littering.

We’ll also be working with DECC to send a much greater volume of our biodegradable waste through anaerobic digestion – generating renewable energy and bringing down levels of greenhouse gases from landfill.

These responsibilities put Defra at the heart of our green government.

It’s a task I’m relishing – but I do not underestimate the scale of it for one moment.

Due to the sheer hard work of so many organisations – including many of you here today – significant progress has already been made to tackle our waste mountain.

The amount of waste sent to landfill has gone down by over a third since 2001.

Nationally, households now recycle over 38% of their waste, compared to only 9% ten years ago.

And recycling from green waste has gone up 13% in the last decade.

We have been slowly moving in the right direction.

The direction of travel is right.

It’s the pace that’s the problem.

We need to go faster and we need to go further.

Waste is one of the biggest economic and environmental challenges we face.

At every part of the waste hierarchy we want and need to do more.

We will also have to do it differently and we all know why.

We are a nation which has inherited the biggest peacetime deficit ever.

Continuing with current approaches at the current pace is something we cannot afford – either environmentally or economically.

We need a new approach to waste – one which works for the new economy.

We need an approach which recognises its cost to business, to households, to local and central Government, and the environment alike.

We cannot keep putting recyclable and biodegradable material into landfill.

It threatens the environment and wastes what are incredibly valuable natural resources.

Landfill is expensive and we are pay twice when we bury resources like aluminium in landfill, when used aluminium fetches around £800 a ton.

The landfill tax has been an important factor, and will continue to be – not only in reducing landfill – but in achieving recognition that what we call waste is actually a resource, and a valuable one too.

It’s the awareness of this value that we need to build on as we create our new leaner, greener economy.

Because if getting to grips with our problem is one of our biggest challenges, it also provides some of our biggest opportunities – using resources more efficiently and helping create the new green jobs of the future.

This green Government will help deliver the green jobs, the green technologies and the greener economy we must achieve to ensure a future that is both secure and sustainable.

Finding ways not just to use less energy, water and natural resources – but by using the waste we do produce as the valuable raw material it actually is.

To do this we need to start thinking now about our future infrastructure needs, including greatly increasing our anaerobic digestion capacity.

That is why we are supporting local authorities with a major PFI programme as they modernise their recovery and disposal facilities away from landfill and in line with our EU commitments.

It is time to drive forward the delivery of our zero waste economy.

And I’d like to unpack what we mean by ‘zero waste’ …”

Read the rest of the article on the DEFRA website and leave your comments below.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. Karin says:

    Shouldn’t the government put pressure on manufacturers and producers to reduce the amount of packaging they use? I think something of the sort happens in Germany. Things seem to have more and more packaging when we need them to have less.

  2. Mrs Green says:

    @Karin: I agree with you Karin. I think the thrust of the speech was that we DO all need to work together from now on. Let’s see what happens with this new Govt.

  3. John Costigane says:

    I wish Caroline Spelman the best of luck with a new perspective towards the waste issue. It is too early to assess progress but the example of Incentivised Recycling, introduced under a local Conservative administration, could indicate an improved approach. The beauty of the system is that large families would benefit most, my own 3-month filling of a blue commingled bin showing the reality. In the old system large families were more likely to be penalised, which was patently unfair.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Yes, we;ll be watching with interest to see what changes come about. As you say, allowing large families to benefit is a great incentive for better recycling and more care…

  5. Nick Palmer says:

    Even in the rest of the speech, she doesn’t directly make any mention of incineration – which is rather good really… The emphasis on AD generation of natural gas is even better.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @Nick Palmer: Hi Nick; yes I was impressed too 😉

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