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14 Mar 2003 : Column 533—continued

Joan Ruddock: The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. My own mother has a similar problem with her local authority. Local authorities need to have discussions with their residents about what is possible and what is not. For many people, the wheelie bin has been a great success, but elderly people may still have problems. With forethought and consideration, ways can be found to overcome those problems. If we are to make recycling as successful as I hope we will, we need to take great care to understand what people can and will do. That is essential.

On that point, I refer to Environment Agency research that was published in May last year. The press release states:

Mr. Chaytor: On public support for recycling, does my hon. Friend agree that that is one of a number of issues on which public opinion is way ahead of the Government's perception of public opinion? There is an enormously important campaign by residents of Ramsbottom in my constituency, the RALF campaign—Ramsbottom against Land Fill—which not only was successful in turning down an important planning application for one of the largest holes in the ground in south-east Lancashire, but, accepting responsibility for developing an alternative to landfill, is now working closely with the metropolitan district of Bury to establish a household doorstep recycling campaign. Is it not important that we build on the

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strength of support for recycling among local community groups? Can they not be an important force for change?

Joan Ruddock: I could not agree more. I, too, have had experience of people, sometimes from particularly deprived communities, with strong feelings about the way in which their rubbish is disposed of and with the will to do something themselves. Of course we should engage with that, and I recommend it to every council and congratulate my hon. Friend's constituents.

Another virtue can be added to those that I have already explained this morning in relation to recycling and composting. Waste Watch in "Jobs in Waste" calculated that achieving a recycling target of just 30 per cent. by 2010 would create 45,000 jobs. The private company Biffa Waste Services Ltd. predicted smaller gains, but its range of scenarios suggests that around 40,000 jobs would be created by the Bill.

I think that the House will conclude that there is a pressing need for a huge expansion of doorstep recycling if we are to deal with the required shift from landfill and the public's resistance to further incinerator build.

My Bill proposes that 50 per cent. of UK municipal waste should be recycled or composted by 2010. That target has not been plucked from the air. The fifth report of the Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs in March 2001 said:

Mrs. Lawrence: Is my hon. Friend aware that Canberra in Australia has gone from 22 per cent. to 66 per cent. recovery of waste in only six years by utilising systems designed to separate waste into different streams?

Joan Ruddock: My hon. Friend adds to the argument that I am making that it can be done, should be done and is done in other places.

Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate): In common with other hon. Friends, I should like my hon. Friend to know that her Bill has massive support from my constituents. I have received a huge postbag—and that from people who live in the borough of Camden, which I am sure my hon. Friend will agree has been a leader in this area, working for recycling and doorstep collection. A point that is central and essential to this that has already been made, and in which I believe that the public are way ahead of the Government and many local authorities, is that in densely populated areas such as London it is virtually impossible for many people to find space in their homes to store recyclable waste, and as my hon. Friend has already said, a car may not be available to take it to an already established recycling point.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): Order. May I ask the hon. Lady to bring her intervention to a close?

Glenda Jackson: Therefore a doorstep point where people may leave their recyclable rubbish, perhaps daily, would be a simple solution.

Joan Ruddock: My hon. Friend makes an important point. We must ensure that people, wherever they live,

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whether in the most densely populated urban areas or in rural areas, have a service that is as accessible and convenient as possible. It cannot be perfect for everyone all of the time, but much greater efforts could and should be made.

The national targets dismissed by the Select Committee as "depressingly unambitious" appeared in the Government's "Waste Strategy 2000", which further announced the introduction of recycling targets for each local authority in England. But the strategy was hardly in place before the depth and urgency of the problem prompted a Government review, which resulted in the strategy unit's report published last November, "Waste not, Want not"—a strategy for tackling the waste problem in England—which provides the major argument that underpins the Bill. The strategy is for England alone, but its proposals are equally valid for all parts of the United Kingdom. The strategy unit called for policies aimed at

It predicted that its recommended strategy would lead to a scenario where in 2015

Much of the supporting work that informed that study has also been published. A university of Paisley study found that the best system to deliver high capture was

and that

The arguments for enabling every household to dispose of waste sustainably are utterly convincing, but the preparation of the Bill has forced me to test them out in discussion with many of the key players in the field. I have had good advice from Councillor Kay Twitchen of the Local Government Association and Samantha Heath, the chair of the Greater London Authority's environment committee, and from her colleague and mine, Nicky Gavron. I am delighted that the Mayor of London's draft strategy proposes that there should be a household collection of recyclables for every household in London by 2004.

I have also received good advice from the Environment Agency, the Environmental Services Association, the waste and resources action programme—or WRAP—the local authority recycling advisory committee, the all-party sustainable waste group, London Remade, the Paper Federation of Great Britain and British Glass. I have also received hundreds of letters of advice from individuals and companies.

Inevitably, there is concern about new duties being placed by the Government on local government, but there is also enthusiasm to do the job from many local authorities. My own council of Lewisham is no exception. Nine years ago, when it diverted its waste from landfill to incineration, that appeared to be a sustainable option, but the consequence is a low recycling rate and it has been acknowledged that much more needs to be done.

Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster): I very much support the Bill. Recent studies in Sweden

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that have made the national newspapers suggest that incineration may be more environmentally friendly than recycling. That is counter-intuitive to everything that all of us believe in, but has the hon. Lady given any thought to that, and could she elucidate it in her speech today?

Joan Ruddock: We shall have to pursue such matters if the Bill reaches Committee, but other reports suggest the opposite. We must weigh up all the evidence, but what concerns me and others is that incinerators produce dangerous emissions, the permissible levels of which have had to be brought down and down, suggesting that that is a real, not a fanciful, concern. We must therefore consider the matter carefully. Sweden has invested considerably in incinerators, which may be why it hopes to make that particular case.

My local authority has had a low recycling rate and I know the reasons for that, but I am delighted that it formally supports my Bill and has successfully obtained more than £1 million from DEFRA's waste minimalisation and recycling fund, and that it plans to establish kerbside recycling for estates borough wide of mixed dry recyclables from April this year. However, it points out that sustainable waste management requires sustainable financing.

There is no way the UK target on landfill can be met without a greater contribution from every local authority. The strategy unit report highlighted years of missed targets and failed strategies. How many people remember that the environment White Paper of 1990 set a target of 25 per cent. recycling by 2000, but actually achieved slightly more than 11 per cent.? Reports in 1995 and 1999 served only to emphasise the Government's failures, which culminated in shifting the 25 per cent. target from 2000 to 2005–06 in "Waste Strategy 2000".

Something has to change, and that change must be based on what the public say that they will do and want their councils to do. In drafting the Bill, we have reflected the desire of central and local government to remain focused on outcomes—50 per cent. recycling—and not on process, such as the 100 per cent. doorstep recycling target that was originally proposed. However, there is a strong argument that the collection of separated waste is but an upgrade of councils' existing duty to provide a collection service.

Other arguments have been put to me, particularly about markets. I crave the indulgence of the House; as I have given way a lot, I seem to have been speaking for a long time, but it has not all been my speech. [Hon. Members: "It is very interesting."] I am encouraged by my hon. Friends. I want to deal now with the other arguments that have been put to me about markets, as many local authorities have had bad experiences in the past and are concerned that existing markets cannot cope with supply and that new markets need to be created. WRAP—the waste and resources action programme—is undoubtedly doing sterling work and there will always be a need to stimulate and encourage innovation and markets.

The recyclates exhibition that I organised in Portcullis House on Wednesday featured 20 companies, which provided a superb display of talent in manufacturing

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new products from recycled waste. I am only sorry that I am not wearing today the scarlet fleece that was on display—

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