Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the costs of departmental (a) staff training days and (b) staff development days held away from the Department were in each year since 1997. 
Alun Michael: Through its Learning and Development Strategy Defra links training opportunities closely to its current and future business needs and provides access to training to develop staff to their full potential.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the supermarkets' code of practice on purchasing from farmers. 
Alun Michael: The supermarkets code of practice seeks to regulate a limited number of practices engaged in by the major supermarkets in their dealings with their direct suppliers, relatively few of whom are farmers.
Responsibility for the code rests with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). In February 2004 OFT published a report of its review of the operation of the code. This can be found on the OFT website at: www.oft.gov.uk/news/press+releases/2004/2804.htm.
The review concluded that there was a widespread belief among suppliers that the code was not working properly, but it found no hard evidence for this belief. Given the reluctance of suppliers to provide specific evidence of alleged breaches of the code, the OFT has commissioned a focused audit of the four supermarkets bound by the code. The purpose of the audit is to establish hard facts about compliance with the code as a basis for any further action. The OFT hopes to publish a report of the audit in the next few weeks.
No specific discussions have taken place with (a) municipalities in other countries and (b) local authorities in the United Kingdom, on zero waste strategies and no assessments have been made of the use of such strategies.
Waste Strategy 2000" set out the Government's priorities for sustainable waste management. The Government's response to the Strategy Unit Report Waste Not Want Not" identified further steps to be taken to help deliver our priorities and targets. Although Waste Strategy 2000" is not a zero waste strategy (either zero waste to landfill, or a totally closed resource cycle), it does demand substantial waste minimisation, and significantly increased levels of re-use and recycling.
Mr. Morley: Waste Strategy 2000, which sets out the Government's priorities for sustainable waste management, included a commitment to carry out a review in 2005. This review will provide an opportunity for consultation on existing waste policies and delivery mechanisms.
Although Waste Strategy 2000 does not include 'redesign' specifically within the waste hierarchy, both redesign and 'ecodesign' are identified as ways to achieve reductions in waste (see paragraph 2.10, WS2000, part 1, page 1 5; also paragraph 4.36, WS2000, part 2, page 45; and paragraph 5.6, WS2000, part 2, page 65).
Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research she has evaluated on the effectiveness of use of the Estech Europe waste disposal method by local authorities; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: Information about the effectiveness of the Estech Fibercycle process can be found on the Waste Technology Data Centre web page which is contained within the Environment Agency web site at www.environment- agency.gov.uk.
The Waste Technology Data Centre is part of Defra's Waste Implementation Programme's New Technologies workstream and was set up to provide impartial information to local authorities about technologies in waste processing. It is managed by the Environment Agency on behalf of Defra.
The Waste Implementation Programme was set up as a means of providing assistance to local authorities in establishing their strategies for diverting bio-degradable municipal solid waste from landfill as required by the Landfill Directive.
Dr. Richard Taylor:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she is taking to encourage increased clarity in the
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labelling relating to recycling on plastic packaging and containers; and if she will ensure that local authorities have consistent policies relating to the range of plastic materials that they will collect for recycling. 
Mr. Morley: Commission Decision 97/129/EC provides numbering and abbreviations for the identification of packaging materials, including plastics. While the marking system is voluntary, we encourage manufacturers to use the markings where possible to aid the process of sorting and recycling of the plastic packaging waste.
Government have set each local authority in England statutory performance standards for recycling and composting of household waste for 200304 and 200506. In addition, the Household Waste Recycling Act 2003 requires waste collection authoritiessubject to certain exemptionsto provide a kerbside collection service of at least two recyclable materials by 2010. It is local authorities' responsibility to decide which range of materials they collect for recycling or composting, taking into account local circumstances, to help them meet the standards and the requirements of the Act. The Waste and Resources Action Programme supports and advises local authorities on separate collection of dry recyclables and organic wastes.
Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent on waste management in the United Kingdom as a proportion of gross domestic product in each of the last five years; how much was Government expenditure in each year; what the projected expenditure as a proportion of gross domestic product is for each of the next five years; and how much she estimates will be Government expenditure in each year. 
Mr. Morley: Information is not available centrally in the form requested. Figures are available for the total expenditure by local waste disposal and collection authorities in England on the management of municipal waste for each of the years from 19992000 to 200203. The table provides these figures and what this expenditure represents as a proportion of gross value added for England.
|Gross Value Added for England at Current Basic Price in (£)(6)
|Net current expenditure on waste management expenditure by waste disposal and collection authorities in England in (£)(7)
|Waste management expenditure by waste collection and waste disposal authorities as a percentage of GVA in England