Examination of witnesses (Questions 440
TUESDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2000
FIELDING and MR
440. But surely, if it is going to be a major
input from people, you want to get across the message that there
is a real problem here year-on-year if industry does not reduce
its amount of waste. I will give you an instance. I bought a belt
for a vacuum cleaner, a simple bit of rubber. It was in cellophane.
Then it was in a box. It was half the size of A4. Not only was
there all that packaging, but there were two in there and I only
wanted one. What dialogue have you with industry on this sort
(Mr Coulter) We talk to local supermarkets. We work
with them as far as we can.
441. That is where I bought mine, from the local
supermarket. They did not make it.
(Mr Coulter) No, it is further back up the pipeline.
(Mr Fielding) We do have links as professionals with
industry, through other organisations. Our Association is one
of mainly sharing best practice and dialogue and discussion and
all the sorts of things you have heard today. The problem you
have outlined is one of the fundamental problems again with the
proposed Strategy. It is the lack of integration of producer responsibility,
and the role of producer responsibility to delivery of sustainable
waste management and sustainable resource consumption. The Strategy
focuses on us as household waste managers and not dealing with
442. You are shown to be rather scathing about
the documents on encouraging householders to increase the amount
of recycling undertaken. Why?
(Mr Fielding) We felt that they were a little weak.
Possibly the perception was that they may have been watered down
at the last minute, and failed to give any serious consideration
to the mechanisms to make significant improvements in the amount
of recycling carried out by householders. A competition, a reward
system, is unlikely to make significant changes in consumer habits.
443. What will?
(Mr Fielding) The sorts of issues we have discussed
is to do with bringing a direct incentive to the householder in
terms of the financial incentive.
444. You mean charging them to take away the
(Mr Coulter) That is part of it.
445. So you weigh the wheelie bin when it is
collected from the household?
(Mr Coulter) That could be done, yes.
446. I know it could be done. What I am asking
you is this: what are you saying as an organisation? Is that the
way to encourage householders to recycle?
(Mr Coulter) What we said was one element in this
process. It will go partly to doing that. There is evidence from
other countries like Canada where it does encourage this. We realise
the political problems with doing that.
447. You have just told us that you think there
has been a deflection of household building waste, if you like,
to civic amenity tips. Would you not just encourage people either
to take it into a civic amenity tip rather than put it in their
wheelie bin, or simply to fly-tip it and get away with it?
(Mr Coulter) As my colleague suggested, we could also
charge civic amenity sites. The issue of fly-tipping is a matter
of enforcement. To some extent we find that most people are willing
to deal responsibly with their waste but it does not take many
to create fly-tipping.
448. In effect, you are talking about green
tax to change people's habits. Are you sure that it would not
simply hurt people who were hard-up and on low incomes, and make
very little difference to people who were relatively affluent
and who would not mind a charge of, perhaps, 5 or £6 a week
for removing their waste?
(Mr Fielding) That is an important point for consideration.
That is the problem. I have to say that the jury is out in a lot
of respects as to direct charging for collection from households.
For as many people who would argue for it, there are as many people
who would argue against it, for mainly those reasons. Even if
we doubled or trebled the cost, it would still be cheap. Those
issues raised are quite valid. Some people would be able to afford
them and other people would not. That is one of the reasons why
we raised the proposal for a sustainability levy, which could
address those issues at point of purchase and not point of disposal.
The logical conclusion outlined in our evidence about this, as
we are saying, is that the responsibility for sustainable resource
consumption should not put that strain. The conclusion, as waste
managers, is that we should almost be encouraged to get more waste
into our system and not less. We should take a responsible attitude
and encourage waste in, so that we can deal with it properly.
The current system would prevent that because of the incentive
targets, incentive funding. However, that is the logical conclusion.
You follow the arguments we are making? There is some sense in
449. So what you are saying? You want charges
for domestic waste removal or the approach you have just outlined?
(Mr Fielding) The Association does not have a view
on direct charging at point of collection. We do have a view that
direct or indirect fiscal measures need to be part of a package,
which will incentivise householders on choices at point of purchase.
Mrs Dunwoody: That is a cop-out, with the greatest
450. I know, Mr Coulter, it is quite useful,
but we do need to get it on the record, so I have to interrupt
you: would you like to put it into your own words, would you describe
it as a cop-out?
(Mr Coulter) What you are hearing is that the Association,
because we are a group of professionals and do not regulate each
other, so we have different views on this, I suppose.
451. Just like individual householders, you
all have different views.
(Mr Coulter) It would have to be an equitable system,
there is no doubt about that. We have water metering and things
like that. Waste metering may come.
Chairman: On that note, may I say thank you
very much for your evidence.