Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Fifth Report


  When giving oral evidence to the Sub-Committee on 28 November 2000, Patricia Hewitt MP, Minister for Small Business and E-Commerce, undertook to provide further information on certain issues in writing. The Clerk has since confirmed the Sub-Committee's wish to have clarification on the following points, in the form of a Supplementary Memorandum.

Q969. Details of any projections of the future role of incineration

  It is clear that some growth in energy from waste capacity will be necessary in the coming years, since diversion of waste away from landfill, required for the implementation of the EC Landfill Directive, is unlikely to be achieved through recycling and composting alone.

  The Department does not have any firm figure for the number of incinerators, or for other energy from waste plant, which might be built in the coming years. We believe that it is possible that up to a quarter of the UK's renewables target for 2010 could be met by the recovery of energy from waste. This figure is based on estimates in Waste Strategy 2000 for the level of incinerator capacity that local authorities may consider necessary, after minimising waste production and meeting the challenging targets for recycling and composting.

Q982-984. Whether the eight PFI projects approved for funding since the changes have included incineration and, where they have, what scale of incineration plant is being proposed and what the overall contribution of incineration is to the local waste management plan

  Seven of the eight waste PFI schemes so far supported have included an incineration component: Isle of Wight, Kirklees, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, South Gloucestershire, Surrey, East London Waste Authority, and East Sussex and Brighton and Hove. The eighth, Leicester City, does not include an incineration component. PFI finances large integrated waste management projects. Approval does not stipulate specific funds for individual waste options within an overall scheme. The proportion of PFI credits allocated to each option (eg recycling, incineration) may vary between approval and procurement of the project.

Q988. Details of Leicester's PFI Scheme

  These will be provided as soon as possible.

Q1022. Chewing gum: which Government Department is responsible and what producer responsibility measures could be introduced

  The general problem of chewing gum disposal has been tackled by the Tidy Britain Group who are involved with the Wrigleys Company on joint initiatives. Their aims are to educate and encourage better gum disposal and to investigate alternative methods of gum removal. To this end, Tidy Britain Group has set up a Technical Working Group which includes representatives of Local Authorities and the Wrigleys Company.

Q1040. An opinion on Mr Gummer's statement that he thought there was a substantial amount of tax/regulation evasion relating to the Packaging Regulations

  A number of businesses have written to the Department suggesting that the Government's recent decision to increase the targets for recovery and recycling of packaging waste is partly due to the result of poor policing by the Environment Agency of "free-riders" and on under-reporting of obligations. The Department's understanding is that the Environment Agency is taking a much more robust approach than in the early days of the Regulations, and that industry now acknowledges that the Agency has made progress in tracking down free-riders. Through the Agency's efforts, over 500 businesses who were not complying have been brought into the Regulations. At this stage, although there is frequent reference to a "free-rider" problem, there is little evidence that there continues to be such a problem. Nevertheless the Environment Agency has been encouraged to take even greater action against non-complying businesses that might be identified in the period up to the deadline for the Directive targets next year.

  The Environment Agency has also been doing some good work in identifying the largest tonnages of packaging not properly reported, although more can be done in this area. For example, some 500,000 tones of imported paper not being reported and consequently not included in the obligated tonnage, was identified recently by the Agency and the situation has now been rectified.

Q1041. Details of the composition of the Tyre Recycling Committee

  The Sub-Committee is referring to the Used Tyre Working Group (UTWG). This industry/Government group was formed (as the Scrap Tyre Working Group) in June 1995, following the introduction of the then-Government's producer responsibility initiative. Its industry membership consists of UK tyre manufacturers, importers and retailers.

  A key element of the UTWG's work is preparing for the consequences of the EC Landfill Directive, which will progressively introduce a ban on the landfilling of tyres, leading to a complete ban save for a few specific exceptions. That implies a requirement to recover all tyres, providing a market for those able to reuse, recycle and recover value from them. It is worth noting that scrap tyres have a negative value, and therefore give rise to a disposal charge.

  As part of this work, the UTWG is looking at how the reprocessing market is developing and how the development of new capacity can be encouraged. The Group has visited retreading, rubber crumbing and energy recovery facilities this year, as well as holding an open forum meeting which was well attended by a wide cross-section of industry stakeholders, including recyclers. The UTWG plans to hold similar meetings in the future. The lack of a representative trade body for tyre recyclers has made it impracticable for individual businesses to be appointed to the Group, but membership will be kept under review.

December 2000

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