Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Fifth Report


  Thank you for sending a copy of the press notice announcing the House of Commons Environment Sub-committee's inquiry into Delivering Sustainable Waste Management and for the opportunity to comment on the Government's waste strategy. I have pleasure in sending you this memorandum on behalf of the aluminium packaging sector, comprising raw materials manufacturers of can sheet and foil, and converters of foil products.

  We cannot predict at this early stage of the Waste Strategy for England and Wales, which looks forward as far as 20 years, whether the policies it sets out are sufficient to deliver sustainable waste management or whether the necessary measures, including provision of financial resources are in place for those policies to be implemented.

  However, we do believe that the Waste Strategy makes a good and promising start towards delivering a step change towards more sustainable waste management. We particularly welcome several specific aspects of policy including the following:

    —  Clear thinking and guidance on the responsibilities to be undertaken by the various sectors involved, including local authorities, businesses, the waste management sector and Government itself, setting targets where they can be set.

    —  The proposal to use the landfill tax credit scheme to help deliver an increase in recycling, particularly of household waste (used aluminium packaging arises mainly in the domestic waste stream and currently, insufficient attention or resources are allocated to collecting household recyclables).

    —  The proposed extension of the landfill tax credit scheme to include recycling and re-use projects carried out by non-profit making, non-public bodies such as small community recycling schemes. Alupro works in partnerships with such schemes, especially social employment schemes, that through participation in aluminium packaging collection programmes, benefit from training, work experience and the creation of real jobs. Given extra incentives, such worthwhile schemes could do much more to help the environment, their communities and themselves. We believe that these schemes epitomise sustainable development.

    —  That in order to achieve the desired increases in recycling of municipal waste, local authorities will be set statutory performance standards. Many local authorities already do a good job in respect of collecting household waste for recycling, despite their lack of specific funding for the purpose. Local authorities must be adequately funded to meet their forthcoming targets and we are by no means confident that this will be the case. For example, the £140 million announced in the Chancellor's Spending Review 2000 (DET&R News release 506 of 26 July 2000) to be made available over three years, to give central support to council recycling, represents spending of only 90p per person per annum, based on the population of England and Wales. Furthermore, the £1,127 million general increase in local authority provision to be made available over three years, is for a range of purposes, ie to fund environmental, protective and cultural services, including waste management, but spending on recycling will be discretionary and therefore uncertain. We do not know how much extra, in percentage terms, these grants will represent to local authorities, and it is not clear to us how these funds will be co-ordinated with other sources of revenue, eg PRN revenues from industry, for best effect. Presumably the levels of funds promised to local authorities in the Spending Review were based on data and assumptions that indicate that the amount of funds will be adequate to deliver the targets. However, since we are not privy to the assumptions, we cannot comment on the adequacy of funding.

    —  That incineration, which will certainly have a role to play in meeting overall targets for the reduction of land-filling, will not compete with recycling, which we believe must be considered first.

    —  That retailers, local authorities and Government will take action to educate and inform the public in the need to recycle and good waste management practices, and that Government will take forward further work on four types of consumer incentive schemes in England. It is our view that retailers and local authorities are particularly well placed to influence the public, both as consumers and waste generators. Alupro is keen to work with both sectors to achieve more public awareness of the merits of increasing recycling.

    —  That the proposed "WRAP" programme will be set up to deliver more recycling, help deliver markets and end-uses for secondary materials and promote an integrated approach to resource use. Whilst the programme and its objectives are to be welcomed overall, for aluminium packaging, adequate markets exist to accept all on-specification used aluminium collected, and achieving more collection is the main challenge. For aluminium, due to its light weight and consequent material efficiency, used packaging arises in small quantities, predominantly in household waste. Since recyclables are more difficult and costly to access from household waste than from industrial and commercial sources, little action has been taken nationally to increase collection.

        Our point is that increasing collection of materials for which guaranteed markets exist, is every bit as important as establishing end-use markets to justify more collection of some other materials, and equally critical to meeting the targets.

  We do hope that this input to the Environment Sub-committee's work will make a helpful contribution and please do not hesitate to ask for anything further that the Sub-committee members might require.

Alex Griffin
Director, Aluminium Material Organisation

October 2000

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