MEMORANDUM BY THE DEPARTMENT OF TRADE
AND INDUSTRY (DSW 114)
Mr Andrew F Bennett's letter of 7 November to
Patricia Hewitt asked for a written memorandum from this Department
in connection with the Environment Sub-committee's inquiry into
Delivering Sustainable Waste Management.
1. The Department of Trade and Industry
was closely involved in the development of the Government's waste
strategy for England and WalesWaste Strategy 2000published
in May this year. The DTI's own Sustainable Development Strategy,
published in October, identifies reductions in waste generation
as a key feature of improving resource productivity, and contains
a number of actions which complement the waste strategy.
2. The DTI Sustainable Development Strategy
notes that only 1 per cent of what goes into making products is
currently still in use in six months' time, and recognises that
waste represents inefficient use of resources, costs to business
and clean-up costs to society. The Strategy sets the Department
an objective of strengthening the capacity of business to reduce
waste generation through innovative and market-based solutions,
and to exploit growing commercial opportunities at home and abroad.
It aims to do this by increasing the productive use of resources
through more efficient, less-waste-producing technologies and
processes, closed-loop production, product design, and recovery,
recycling and re-use.
3. Apart from seeking to ensure that the
policy framework supports innovation and enterprise in this field
by, for example, making more and better use of market and voluntary
approaches, DTI will achieve this objective through a number of
programmes, such as:
DTI Recycling Programme and DETR/DTI
Waste and Resources Action Programme, which are helping to develop
markets and end-uses for secondary raw materials.
DTI/DETR Envirowise Programme (formerly
the Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme)encouraging
businesses to adopt the practices of the best.
DTI/Research Council Sustainable
Technologies Initiative, which brings together business and the
science and engineering base to develop new technologies and processes
to bring about step-changes in resource productivity.
4. The Committee has asked that the following
specific topics be covered in this Memorandum:
What role the DTI sees for producer responsibility
measures in promoting sustainable waste management; and in particular
how it is involved in developing any new producer responsibility
measures which may be envisaged
5. The Department sees producer responsibility
as a potentially important means of motivating businesses to take
action to reduce the environmental impact of their products over
the whole life of their products by, for example, increasing re-use,
recovery and recycling rates. Businesses can be encouraged to
give greater consideration to environmental impacts at the design
stage, by using less material and facilitating refurbishment,
dismantling, recovery and recycling. Recycled material can also
be specified in the manufacture of the products themselves. The
challenge lies in designing producer responsibility initiatives
that are effective, lead to real environmental improvements, and
strengthen business competitiveness.
6. The DTI's general preference is to encourage
a voluntary approach to producer responsibility, since this can
help provide the flexibility necessary to stimulate more innovative
and cost-effective solutions. But introducing producer responsibility
legislation may be considered where (i) a voluntary approach would
be unlikely to achieve the environmental benefits sought; (ii)
those benefits are significant against the costs of regulation;
or (iii) a statutory approach may be necessary to demonstrate
compliance with EC legislation.
7. DTI is closely involved, with other Departments,
in the identification, initiation and development of any new producer
responsibility measures. For example, DTI currently leads for
the UK in EC negotiations for a directive on Waste Electrical
and Electronic Equipment, which has internal market and economic
How the DTI is helping to develop markets for
secondary (recycled) materials
8. The Department sees the development of
strong demand for recycled materials as key to securing sustainable
increases in waste recycling rates. In 1998, it commissioned a
study by the Recycling Advisory Unit at AEA Technology Ltd of
the options for developing markets for recycled materials. The
study identified a number of factors which affect demand for recyclate,
including a lack of information concerning the availability and
performance of recycled materials. Without this data, manufacturers
are unable to judge the viability of using recyclate in their
production processes. Demand can also be inhibited, for example,
by product standards and specifications that discriminate unnecessarily
against the use of recycled materials, or by the absence of standards
and specifications for such materials.
9. The DTI Recycling Programme, announced
in October 1999, offers financial support, in a competitive bidding
process, towards projects falling in two main categories:
(a) research and development projects which
develop or demonstrate new uses for recycled materials, or develop
and demonstrate new sorting or recycling techniques
(b) underpinning projects which develop standards
for pre-processed and reprocessed waste materials, or review existing
discriminatory standards and specifications, or identify and disseminate
best recycling practice, including better design.
10. The call for proposals under the Programme
resulted in 1,400 expressions of interest and 246 outline applications,
with a strong level of industry interest. The applications covered
all the main material sectors. Nine projects, involving grants
of about £1 million, have been selected for support. These
projects are all due to commence before the end of the year and
cover R&D and underpinning projects for waste plastics, vehicles,
glass, rubber, chemicals and acids. The DTI Recycling Programme
was established as a precursor to the Waste and Resources Action
Programme (WRAP). WRAP, launched on 15 November, is a not-for-profit
organisation, to which DTI has already committed £2.5 million.
Market development will be a key feature of WRAP's work.
How the DTI is encouraging industry to take advantage
of the business opportunities offered by more sustainable use
of waste materials
11. The DTI/DETR Envirowise Programme (formerly
The Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme) promotes
the use of better environmental technologies and practices that
reduce costs for industry via performance guides and case studies.
Although this activity is primarily aimed at reducing the generation
of waste, some sectoral studies highlight the recycling opportunities
which exist for unavoidable manufacturing wastes. The DTI/EPSRC
LINK Programme "Waste Minimisation through Recycling, Reuse
and Recovery" has supported research into numerous projects
which will facilitate recycling and reuse in many sectors of industry.
It has now entered the dissemination phase and an active programme
is taking place to bring the results to as many interested businesses
as possible. In close association with DETR, the Department is
also encouraging a better understanding of recycling opportunities
through the Waste and Resources Action Programme.
What contribution the DTI expects energy from
waste incineration to make to its 10 per cent target for renewable
energy, and the level of financial support envisaged for it
12. The Department expects energy from waste
incineration to make a contribution of approximately one quarter
of the Government's 2010 target for renewable energy. Energy recovery
from municipal solid waste and from mixed streams of commercial
and industrial waste is already commercially viable and well established
in the market. For this reason, the Government has proposed that
energy from these sources will not be eligible for the Renewables
Obligation on which we are currently consulting, but will be eligible
for exemption from the Climate Change Levy.
13. Current and future energy from waste
plants will clearly have an important role to play, alongside
the considerable increases in recycling and composting envisaged
in Waste Strategy 2000.