Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Fifth Report


  I am writing to provide supplementary evidence to the Environment Sub-committee's inquiry into Delivering Sustainable Waste Management.

  In November 2000 Wastepack submitted written evidence to the Committee's inquiry into Sustainable Waste Management. Since that time we have further developed our views on the issue of waste incineration, specifically in relation to its potentially damaging impact on recycling, and have views on how policy can be developed to avoid this.

  As you may recall, Wastepack group comprises Wastelink; waste facility management; Wastepack Compliance and Wastepack Recyclate management and is expanding in all three areas. We have recently received a significant investment of City capital, providing a strong basis for our future investment in recycling. Wastepack Compliance is the UK's second largest packaging waste compliance scheme and in 2001 we will be responsible for the recycling of around 400,000 tonnes of packaging waste.

  We are concerned that waste incineration burns recyclable material. This is exactly the material which Wastepack and other recycling organisations need to be recycling as part of our contribution to the UK meeting its waste recovery targets. Incineration may not be a proven means of meeting EU Directive obligations in the future. We believe it to be an anomaly that while there is a tax on landfill, there is no similar policy which aims to tackle the diversion of recyclable waste into incineration and thus support the Government's commitment "to substantial increases in recycling rates"[49] as set out in Waste Strategy 2000.

  We therefore propose that the Committee should consider the value of the introduction of a tax on the recyclable element of waste going into incineration, as recognised by the UK Environment Agency's guidelines.

  We believe that such a tax would be an important step in ensuring an economic framework in which recyclable material will make its way to being recycled. In addition, although I do not wish to discuss concerns about the potential public health implications of incineration in any detail, we believe that such a tax would also go some way towards recognising the environmental costs of waste incineration.

  I understand that such a tax, and any resulting diversion of recyclable material from incineration, will affect the calorific value of waste going into incineration. However, we also have ideas about the ways in which this calorific value can be replaced and we would be happy to explain these in more detail to the Committee if this would be of value.

  I know that this evidence is arriving late in the Committee's consideration of its views, but given the importance that we place on this issue, and that we are calling for the development of a specific policy, I thought it especially important to provide the Committee with details of our proposal.

Barry van Danzig
Chief Executive

February 2001

49   Waste Strategy 2000, Part 2, paragraph 5.20 (p 69). Back

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