Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Correspondence from Dixons Group plc to the Minister of State (Environment), 23 November 2001


  Further to our earlier correspondence I am writing to follow up comments you made in written answers in the House of Commons on 19 and 21 November.

  In your reply to Mr Blizzard of 21 November you said:

    "Although the UK does not currently have facilities capable of extracting ozone depleting substances, including CFCs, from insulation foam, it is anticipated that some plant may come on-line as early as spring 2002. My Department is finalising measures to manage waste refrigeration equipment in the interim. Advice on storage of waste refrigeration equipment will issue shortly. We are currently considering funding options for local authorities."

  The news that plant may come on line as early as Spring 2002 is very welcome, however it contradicts advice that leading contractors in the industry have given us. We are keen to follow up any initiative that may enable us to restore the collection service we previously offered our customers.

  I wonder if your Department would be willing to inform us of which contractors might be willing or able to provide such facilities in this time scale and what their capacity might be. We would be interested in exploring what ever options might be available with a view to making use of their facilities as early as possible.

  I would also like to record my dismay at the reported comments of your department advising consumers not to buy fridges until further notice. The Christmas holiday season, in which families bulk purchase perishable foods, is one in which many fridges and freezers are bought, most to meet a direct need rather than for reasons of luxury or indulgence. I am surprised if your department is urging consumers to hang onto aged or inadequate refrigeration equipment given the health risk this could entail. I need not add, I am sure, that the next 12 weeks are vital to the retail calendar. I would be interested to know whether you endorse your officials' reported advice.

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