Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1060-
TUESDAY 12 DECEMBER 2000
(Mr Cocker) I believe what WRAP is able to do is to
take a strategic approach to waste and recycling for the first
Chairman: You do not think the Department or
the Environment Agency are capable of doing that?
1061. Are you better able to do it yourself?
Can you do it better than the Environment Agency?
(Mr Cocker) I know the Department spends a lot of
time looking at this and looking at the opportunities to develop
markets. I believe that they are right in saying that we ought
to go about this initially by trying to develop those markets;
and essentially to use us, as a company limited by guarantee,
to try to facilitate those markets. That is obviously what we
intend to do. We believe we have a very good chance of success.
1062. What special perspective will WRAP bring
to research and development in the waste arena, which no other
organisation doing this work could bring?
(Mr Cocker) A strategic approach. In the sense that
we will be going into this. We are going to look at each of the
waste streams and we are going to identify where the gaps are,
either on the supply side or the demand side in appropriate technologies,
and essentially target those specifically. If that R&D has
already been done elsewhere, fine. We will not duplicate it. But
what we intend to do is to make sure that the gaps are filled.
1063. How do you ensure that your role in the
strategic R&D does not duplicate? I get the impression that
it could duplicate what has been done elsewhere.
(Mr Cocker) It absolutely must not. As I explained,
we will start from our strategic approach by looking at each of
the waste streams and identifying where research needs to be done.
We will check whether quality research is being done elsewhere.
If so, we will not undertake it ourselves. We envisage not undertaking
a myriad of projects but a few strategically targeted projects,
to try and improve the overall demand for recyclables and the
market for recyclables overall.
1064. So this is United Kingdom-wide is it?
(Mr Cocker) Yes.
1065. So you are looking at what is going on
in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, as well as in England?
(Mr Cocker) Yes.
1066. Ensuring that there would not be any duplication
in this system as far as the credits is concerned?
(Mr Cocker) That is it. Basically we will aim to ensure
that we are not duplicating what anyone else is doing and we will
discourage others from duplicating what we are doing.
1067. Can you give us some examples of something
which has come up where there could have been duplication.
(Mr Cocker) I am afraid I cannot at this point. I
do not have any examples.
1068. How do you then get all the information
together? How do you feed into this central system? Is it your
system which is central? Should everyone else look at what your
work is? How do you go about structuring that?
(Mr Cocker) What we have said is that we will be an
open organisation. We will adopt an inclusive and strategic approach
so we will let everybody else know exactly what we are doing.
We do not start work until 1 January. When we put our business
plan together we will involve everybody in that business plan.
We will involve them in our thinking. Therefore, they will know
exactly what we intend to do and where we intend to target. I
cannot give you any specific examples because we have not done
this specific work at present.
(Mr Georgeson) It feels to me from outside that it
is quite clear that there is considerable work to be done in research
and development in new applications for materials and this broad
area of recycling market developments. It is clear to many of
us outsideand, indeed, those of us who are going to work
inside WRAPthat WRAP will focus its research in those areas.
There is much other research to be done in waste management. There
are issues of overlap or duplication of research in other areas
of the waste management region, not particularly just related
to the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, although that has been an issue
because there is arguably some duplication of research projects
in that area. Efforts are being made at the momentcertainly
started by ENTRUSTand taken forward by a group of environmental
bodies, who have an interest in research and development, to try,
at the very least, to form some sort of database, accessible by
the internet, to ensure that anybody who is seeking to undertake
new research checks before they start to do it.
1069. Mr Georgeson, what are you going to do
that a good research assistant could not do? I have read this
business plan. "We are going to have a clear strategy."
Yes, one would hope so. "A focused agenda, a structured approach,
a robust decision mechanism." In other words, you have got
to know how to make your minds up. "A series of deliverables,
key policy objectives." Whatever are you doing that a good
research assistant could not do with a series of computers and
a solid number of hours?
(Mr Georgeson) I think, Mrs Dunwoody, that is a fair
1070. That is not a comment, that is a question.
(Mr Georgeson) I will answer it. I think there is
a lot more work to be done than one research assistant.
1071. In what way?
(Mr Georgeson) Everybody is talking about the need
to make a step-change in the way that we handle waste in the United
Kingdom. We have to reduce our dependency on landfill. We are
going to have to start to develop new markets.
1072. "We have a series of working papers
addressing these issues. We are going to say, if you want to participate
send us an e-mail."
(Mr Georgeson) If I may, I am going to hand that back
to the Chairman.
1073. Come on, Mr Cocker, what are you going
to do which is value for my money?
(Mr Cocker) Of course, we have got to do the basic
research and we have got to do the basic things.
1074. It does not say that here in your business
plan. It says you are going to take strategic decisions.
(Mr Cocker) I think all you are looking at there is
a document that we put out at our launch, which said how we are
going to prepare the business plan. As I explained, the business
plan itself is going to be produced between now and the beginning
of April. In that we will have quite strategic direction.
1075. Most people have strategic direction,
do they not?
(Mr Cocker) It is quite interesting that virtually
all the players in the recycling businessand, indeed, in
the whole of the waste businesshave been delighted at WRAP's
1076. I am delighted that they are delighted
but what are you going to do?
(Mr Cocker) Basically, what we intend to do is to
bring together all the forces and to identify what is the best
route to take.
Mrs Dunwoody: Okay, I rest my case.
1077. But how do you get over this problem?
I went to visit one of the operators in recycling. They have got
a lot of good ideas. There are not going to start broadcasting
those on the internet, because it would be commercial suicide
if they were to do that, given that they have an idea. You, as
an organisation, are going to be tied up with R&D and are
going to make sure there is no duplication. How are you going
to overcome the problem of the guy who has something commercially
sensitive, from which he sees a way forward to make money? These
guys are in it to make money. They are making money at this stage
and they can make a hell of a lot more money. Now where do you
fit it in with that organisation? If you are doing the R&D
and you have something which is commercially viable, somebody
is going to make money out of that. Why is it not you?
(Mr Cocker) Because we are a non-profit making organisation.
We are only going to be investing in things which are going to
make a strategic difference. I do not see any problem with the
individual who has an excellent way of recycling and wants to
invest in it and develop it. That is the way markets work. Certainly
we will encourage people to use those approaches where we believe
they will add to the overall demand.
1078. Could I come back to you, Mr Georgeson,
and ask what changes you would like to see, if any, to the Landfill
Tax Credit Scheme.
(Mr Georgeson) Speaking on behalf of Waste Watch,
Waste Watch has some very specific views on the way that the Landfill
Tax Credit Scheme could be changed within its present boundaries.
1079. What are they?
(Mr Georgeson) They are that we should restrict the
amount of money which is spent on the category D and the local
amenity and community projects, valuable work though it is.