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Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if her Department will take steps to encourage the (a) reduction, (b) re-use and (c) recycling of plastic carrier bags. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The waste strategy for England and WalesWaste Strategy 2000emphasises the need to gain more value from waste through re-use, recycling, composting and the recovery of energy. Government are already encouraging retailers to work with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to address levels of plastic bag consumption, and have asked WRAP to investigate the feasibility of a national Bag for Life scheme as part of their Waste Minimisation Programme. Some of the large supermarket chains have already introduced Bag for Life, whereby a charge is made to the customer for a strong and durable plastic bag which is replaced by the retailer when it eventually wears out. The scheme encourages a change in behaviour through the reuse of bags, and the plastic from worn-out bags is recycled. WRAP is investigating the implementation of such a scheme on a national basis.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate the Government have made of the effect of a public smoking ban on cigarette litter in the streets. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Government have not made any estimate of the effect a ban on smoking in public would have on cigarette litter in the streets. However, restrictions on smoking in the workplace do appear to have increased the amount of such litter. The Local Environmental Quality Survey of England, conducted by ENCAMS on behalf of Defra, monitors the prevalence of smoking-related litter, including cigarette ends, cigarette packages, matches and lighters, based on an assessment of over 10,000 sample sites. Over the first three years of the survey, there has been an overall increase in the proportion of sites that have some form of smoking-related litter present:
|Percentage of sites|
Defra is already taking action to reduce smoking-related litter. Section 27 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, which came into force on 7 June, provides clarification that smoking-related materials are litter for the purposes of part 4 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Therefore offenders can be prosecuted or issued with a fixed penalty notice. In February next year, ENCAMS will be launching a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing cigarette butt litter, encouraging smokers to take greater responsibility for the litter they create. In addition, the campaign will specifically look to
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employers who allow their staff to smoke outside their premises to provide practical means of disposing of cigarette ends responsibly.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to educate the public on the role of energy from waste combustion as part of the Waste Strategy. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Waste Strategy 2000 sets out the Government's aim to minimise waste and recover value from waste in line with the waste hierarchy. Energy from waste has an important role to play, but public education and engagement to date has mainly focused on activities that the public can directly participate in, such as waste minimisation, reuse and recycling. DEFRA has published an independent study into the environmental and health effects of waste management, to improve understanding of waste treatment options including energy from waste. In both their waste management and land use planning functions local authorities should engage their communities when planning for energy from waste or other facilities.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects the 10 demonstration plants to encourage new technologies to treat biodegradable municipal waste will begin operating. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The first demonstration plants for more innovative waste management practices, run in partnership with industry and local authorities, will begin operating in 2006. However, lead times will vary in individual cases, depending on local circumstances and the different kinds of technologies involved.
The package of measures put in place by DEFRA to encourage technological innovation also includes current work to: disseminate expertise and advice to local authorities and the waste industry; establish a programme of longer-term research into alternative options for dealing with residual waste; and provide extensive guidance on alternative technology options already used successfully in other countries.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanism is used to monitor compliance by EU member states with the (a) 2006, (b) 2009 and (c) 2016 biodegradable municipal waste diversion targets of Article 5 of the Landfill Directive; and what recent information she has received on the extent of compliance in each case. 
The monitoring authorities in the four constituent countries of the UK will use a 'mass balance calculation' to monitor the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill in any year by each waste disposal authority. The mass balance approach calculates the amount of biodegradable waste landfilled by subtracting the weight of biodegradable materials diverted from landfill from the local authority's total biodegradable waste arisings.
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The Government are currently undertaking an information gathering project with the LGA and other local government stakeholders to assess the current and future diversion capacity in England. The information from this project will give a clear indication about how the targets are being met. The intention is to review this project annually, to allow the Government to closely monitor and evaluate progress towards the targets.
Each EU member state is able to choose the mechanism to demonstrate compliance with Article 5(2) of the Landfill Directive and the UK is not aware of the methods chosen by other member states. I am not aware of any mechanism to monitor compliance prior to each target year.
The details requested by the hon. Member on the extent of compliance by EU member states with Article 5(2) of the Landfill Directive has been published in the Report from the Commission ... on the national strategies for the reduction of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfills pursuant to Article 5(1) of the Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste; reference COM(2005) 105 final". The report is available at http://www.wales.gov.uk/keypubassemeuropeancomm2/content/euleg050411/index-e.htm. In summary, Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the Flemish Region already fulfil the targets set by the directive or have already taken the necessary measures to fulfil them.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the performance of (a) the Government, (b) the Environment Agency and (c) the waste management industry in raising awareness amongst producers of hazardous waste of the application of hazardous waste acceptance criteria from 16 July. 
Mr. Bradshaw: As part of the programme to implement the requirements of the Landfill and Hazardous Waste Directives (the 'LHIP'), Government and the Environment Agency put in place a communications group to coordinate actions to raise awareness of the controls, especially amongst hazardous waste producers. The waste industry has been closely involved both with this group and the wider Hazardous Waste Forum.
The programme involves a considerable number of actions by all players, including the provision of advice and guidance by the agency, industry and Envirowise, the organisation of seminars, and the production of leaflets and a dedicated website.
While no specific assessment of the performance of these communications activities has been undertaken, the Environment Agency has recently conducted an awareness survey of more than 1,000 small and medium sized businesses in England and Wales in 10 key sectors. The results of the survey will enable further communication activities to concentrate on certain sectors and for priority to be given to channels of communication and products considered to be most effective.
Mr. Bradshaw: Waste Strategy 2000 sets out the Government's aim to minimise waste and recover value from waste in line with the waste hierarchy. It includes targets to increase material recovery through recycling and composting, but does not support any particular technology to achieve them. Local authorities also have targets to divert biodegradable municipal waste from landfill under the landfill allowances trading scheme. Local authorities are responsible for and best placed to decide the most appropriate waste management facilities for their areas, based on local circumstances and their statutory obligations.
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