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Earlier I talked about waste collected for recycling. It is all very well collecting all that waste, but does it get recycled in an environmentally friendly way? I

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would argue, no. The vast majority of our waste collected for recycling is exported. Twenty per cent goes to China, which hardly fits into the overall aim of the Bill. We do not have the mechanisms or the markets for recycling in this country.

The noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh said at Second Reading:

However, there is more than one solution to the problem. Perhaps what cannot be turned into fuel or power should be incinerated. The noble Lord went on to say:

At huge risk to myself, I beg to differ. The modern incinerators of today have three or four scrubbers up the chimney, cleaning and purifying the emanations so that the final emissions are inoffensive and clean, making the danger insignificant by EU standards.

We need to look at all aspects and solutions for waste management from all sources and not just target householders, who are only 10 per cent of the problem. In any case, research shows that nearly two-thirds of householders are committed recyclers.

Even if the pilots proposed in the Bill are successful and are rolled out nationally, with equal success, and if waste collected for recycling reaches 50 per cent, which is double the figure for today, and we find UK solutions to recycle environmentally, what will we have achieved? We will have found solutions for a mere 5 per cent of the UK’s waste. What about the remaining 95 per cent? We will have found nothing or, at best, very little.

These provisions tinker with the UK’s waste. We need to be bold, to grasp the nettle; we must find solutions for all UK waste. We need to minimise it in the first place, collect it efficiently and then recycle or dispose of it in the most environmentally beneficial manner. We must look at all the options and solutions. Only then might we find a solution for the Minister’s 6 million tonnes of wood currently sent to landfill. Let us not miss an opportunity. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Lord Crickhowell: Like my noble friend Lord Cathcart and the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, I am not impressed by this rather odd little add-on to the Bill. My noble friend covered effectively the serious shortcomings in the legislation. It is odd that we are dealing with the matter in this way. One cannot be too hostile to pilot schemes of this kind, but one is entitled to ask why we have not been given a clearer picture of the way in which the Government intend to tackle the whole problem of waste.

It is clear that it is of great significance as far as the Bill is concerned, because, as my noble friend indicated, waste is a substantial contributor to CO2 emissions. When we come to meet the targets and prepare the budgets and when the Secretary of State has to produce his great plans so that he can meet those targets, waste will have to be covered. It is therefore odd that it is not in the Bill. I suppose that the Minister will say, “Well, it’s such a major set of policy matters that we will need to come back with separate legislation, and it will be

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part of a big Bill which at some time in the future we’ll produce”. It will be interesting if he says that, and we will want an indication of just when that legislation will come forward and its likely nature.

As for the pilot schemes, we are talking about giving incentives to ratepayers to dispose of their waste in a particular way. However, I suspect that we really should be talking about incentives for industry, as my noble friend said, and for all others who produce waste, to get rid of it in the right way, as well as incentives for local authorities to handle it in the most efficient way.

One of the difficulties that we face is the fact that waste legislation, notably the landfill directive, was devised before climate change became a great issue. Local authorities manage waste mainly on a weight basis. I am on the Science and Technology Committee, and we are undertaking an inquiry into waste. I do not propose to anticipate the findings of that committee as we are at an early stage in the collection of evidence, but we have already had powerful evidence from industry about what is going wrong and heard its concerns about the consequences. It points to the fact that, apart from anything else, there are about 400 different local authorities all pursuing different policies. That makes it difficult for industry to deal effectively and comprehensively with waste. If one local authority handles waste in one way and its next-door neighbour in another, it is difficult for industry, particularly the recycling industry, to work effectively. That is one problem. The Local Government Association briefing states:

That may be so, but do they know how to deal with the needs of industry?

My noble friend referred to the export of recyclable waste to other parts of the world, including China. This week, we were told by representatives of the IT industry that there was an acute shortage of recyclable plastic in this country for manufacture, including an acute shortage in the supply of plastic bottles. We were told that one of the reasons for that was the international recycling trade and the fact that the financial incentives encouraged disposal by export, probably to countries which recycled the material in a way that made a negative rather than positive contribution to climate change. We learnt that at present there are no adequate incentives to the recycling industry in this country to provide manufacturing industry with what it wants.

We heard particularly important evidence from the aluminium industry. Aluminium is an amazing product: 75 per cent of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today. It is not only recyclable but can be recycled to infinity. You can go on recycling it again and again, which you cannot do with plastics or paper because the nature of the product changes in such a way that you do not get an adequate end-product. However, you can do that with aluminium. A difficulty that arises because local authority schemes are based on weight is that aluminium, which is a relatively light product, is simply not getting through the right recycling system. It is disposed of along with

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kitchen waste. We all know what we do with those foil containers in which we cook our suppers—particularly when our wives are away—having acquired them from the supermarket. There is no incentive to deliver them for recycling, and they go into the general waste collection. That is what happens to them. As a result, the industry is simply not getting the amount of material recycled that it would like to see.

There are other problems. For example, you can recycle cans very easily, but there is a rather unfortunate tendency, particularly among the younger generation, to chuck them away and expect others to pick them up rather than to put them in places where they can be collected easily and recycled. We need incentives for them to do that. We were told that in spite of the industry’s efforts, over 90,000 tonnes of aluminium packaging in the UK, worth around £80 million, is still going to landfill. They say that that is largely because the packaging waste regulations and the landfill directive do not encourage local authorities to collect lightweight non-biodegradable packaging like aluminium.

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We were told that for local authorities the collection of lightweight aluminium packaging is not a priority because their targets are weight based with strong incentives to divert biodegradable waste. Aluminium is the only packaging material that has been almost totally dependent on recovering material from the domestic waste stream to achieve its targets.

The glass industry gave us even greater cause for concern. Glass is a material that can be recycled again and again, but even those local authorities—this may seem absurd, but apparently it happens—that solemnly collect different coloured glass bottles in different containers because of the financial arrangements under which they work and the materials recycling facilities operate often commingle the collections again and throw them all in together. As a consequence glass reprocessors are increasingly receiving material of such poor quality that the only market for it is an aggregate for use in road building. The trouble is that the CO2 saving for aggregate use is negative, while if it can be used for recycling bottles and manufacturing it is substantially positive.

In addition, material has been provided and the case has been made to bear out the fact that there is a substantial energy saving for every tonne of glass waste used in new manufacture because recycled glass melts at a lower temperature than virgin raw materials. If we are recycling glass we save a substantial amount in quarry. There are great savings to be made if we can get it right, but because so much of our legislation was devised before the advent of the climate change agenda that is not happening and it is having a serious impact on our glass industry, which is ceasing to be competitive —which should concern us—because our continental rivals are doing the job of recycling much better than we are in this country.

If an industry is unable to meet its targets under the climate change agreements it loses an 80 per cent discount. That is worth £12 million per annum to the industry. The combination of the loss of that discount with the additional energy costs and the greater liability under the Emissions Trading Scheme is likely to see

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the UK glass industry becoming severely uncompetitive with the rest of the EU. Countries such as Holland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland already benefit from lower costs because their recycling and remelt performances are better than ours and they do not get penalised through having to pay a climate change levy.

Surely that should be a concern for the Government. They have been told all that: strong representations have been made. I have been reading from a letter to Ministers. Why is something not being done as a matter of urgency? Why are we having a trivial scheme pilot for five local authorities to see whether they can get householders to create a better split up of their household rubbish? I do not understand, when there are substantial issues to be addressed.

I say to the Government, if we are going to have provisions to deal with waste in the Bill let us have serious provisions that are going to make a difference, or specific information and undertakings about when they are going to come forward with effective legislation to change what is clearly a highly unsatisfactory situation.

Lord Rooker:As we enter the last laps of Committee, I hope that your Lordships will be pleased that we managed to get the announcement of the chair designate to the climate change committee before the end of Committee stage. I hope that that will be a reassurance for Report stage. Part of the Bill has been completely rubbished and dismissed as trivial or insignificant. All I can say to noble Lords is that they should thank their lucky stars that it is in the Bill anyway. That is the reality. Looking for a parliamentary vehicle and at the overall policy objectives, it was that or nothing, and the pilots are important, as I will explain. We do not consider this a trivial part of the Bill and I will not have the answers to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, in the sense of timing of other processes, because they will flow from the pilots, which are only about household waste.

There are plenty of other areas where we are working on minimising waste in industry. However, some interesting points have been raised and questions asked and I will do my best to answer them. I hope that it will set the scene. As the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, said, I will deal with some of the details in the amendments, although I hope that I will have to deal with each of the points only once if I can satisfactorily answer your Lordships.

Clause 51 introduces Schedule 5, which is a different exercise to the rest of the Bill. It produces a legislative framework for any waste collection authority to set up a waste reduction scheme. Waste reduction schemes may have an important role to play in encouraging people to throw away less and recycle more. We need to send less waste to landfill. At the moment, 3 per cent of all UK greenhouse gas emissions come from the methane from biodegradable waste in landfill. We have made good progress in recent years. I have answered Questions from this Dispatch Box in the past couple of years. Household waste recycling has quadrupled in the past 10 years. It is just over 30 per cent in 2006-07. But as has been said, we lag considerably behind much of the rest of Europe and therefore we need to do much better.

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Householders have a vital part to play. As has been said, municipal waste accounts for over a quarter of the waste sent to landfill in England; and household waste forms a large part of that. The research shows that waste reduction schemes could help. For instance—I will probably give other examples as we come through the amendments—a scheme in Sweden saw residual waste fall by 45 per cent in the first year of the scheme and waste separated for recycling and composting rose by 49 per cent.

In Seattle, where householders pay according to the size of their bin, recycling tonnages have increased by 60 per cent and participation in recycling has increased to 80 per cent. What is said is trivial but we are proposing modest powers in this legislation to enable up to five local authorities to pilot waste reduction schemes. The factual briefing note that I sent to noble Lords recently included information about how these schemes could work in practice. In outline, under the proposed powers, householders who throw away the least will receive a rebate from the authority.

In some schemes, householders who throw away the most could pay more. However, all the money raised that way will have to be paid back to residents. That revenue-neutrality condition offers an important protection for local residents. It means that, overall, they do not pay any more to the local authority. The requirement on authorities to keep a separate account of charges and rebates under the scheme will allow residents to assure themselves and the people who watch local authorities that the revenue-neutrality requirement is being met.

The pilot authorities will be able to integrate the rebates and any charges within their local council tax system. The Government are keen to ensure that the necessary protections for people and the environment are in place, so the pilot schemes will need to take account of potentially disadvantaged groups—maybe large families, people living in flats, and so on—and provide a good kerb-side recycling service and have in place a fly-tipping prevention strategy. Those are all points that we shall come to in detail later.

These requirements will ensure that important protections are in place both for society and the environment. My plea to noble Lords is that we have to be able to give local authorities as much flexibility as they need, once we have set the basic framework. They are the professionals with enormous expertise—and, of course, with lots of experience of co-operating with industry as well. But we need them to look at cost efficiency and to reflect local needs and circumstances. The five areas will not all be the same, which is the whole point of the exercise.

That is why I say in advance that I will have to resist amendments that seek to impose unnecessary restrictions on authorities, including additional requirements around fly-tipping prevention, which they have to deal with anyway; packaged and kitchen waste; limits on the way in which local authorities can administer charges; and requirements that schemes cover the whole area, not part of it. We have to give local government some degree of flexibility. Similarly, we want to ensure that as central government, we have sufficient flexibility to

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amend parts of the proposed legislation in the light of what we learn from the pilots, which, after all, is what they are.

We have been careful to ensure that Parliament plays a full role in any such changes. These are new powers for England and we think that piloting is the sensible approach. Up to five pilots will allow us to look in depth at the impacts of a variety of schemes in different areas. In principle, piloting is a good idea. It was one of the things that shadow Ministers were warned about, on the approach to the 1997 election, by retired civil servants, business folk and academics when we were thinking about what we would do in government. They warned us that where there are new schemes, whatever they are, and we can pilot them, we should attempt to do so. Past evidence is that that is a much more successful way of legislating and bringing about change than a one-size-fits-all, do-it-overnight for the whole country approach. We have had too many disasters not to learn the lessons.

It is up to local authorities to bring forward their own proposals on how the schemes will work, including how long they will last, for example. We need to be responsive to the bids, rather than attempting to prejudge what we want them to look like. Of course, we will involve Parliament in the decision-making process.

The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, asked some specific questions, which I shall do my best to answer. He asked whether the principle was right and why we should target householders at the point of collection. Would it be more cost-effective and less administratively and politically difficult to take action in other ways, such as with regard to kitchen waste, use-once bags, and commercial and trade waste? The Government are clear that all sectors need to take action to reduce and recycle their waste. However, householders have an important part to play. As I said, 27 per cent of waste is sent to landfill.

This measure complements action elsewhere; it does not replace it. Nor is it forcing authorities to come forward as pilots. It is completely up to them to decide if it makes administrative and financial sense. Evidence shows that waste reduction schemes can make savings for authorities. The Government have already taken action on packaging. EU packaging waste targets to be achieved by 2008 have raised the recycling rate in the UK for packaging waste from 27 per cent in 1997 to 56 per cent in 2006. Meanwhile, industrial and commercial waste to landfill has fallen from 50 per cent to 44 per cent over a four-year period from 1998-99 to 2002-03.

The waste strategy for food waste from kitchens to 2007 already encourages local authorities to offer separate collections, and the waste resource and action programme—WRAP—is currently trialling separate collections with 17 local authorities to determine the feasibility of a wider rollout. WRAP and its partners are also running a campaign called Love Food, Hate Waste, whose aim overall is to reduce consumer food waste by 100,000 tonnes by March 2008. New targets are currently being drawn up to extend it.

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6.15 pm

The noble Lord also asked about schemes in other countries and whether we regarded them as models to be copied. Research was carried out for Defra last year, which provided a comprehensive review of the literature on waste charging, and modelled the possible impacts of similar schemes in England. It is published on Defra’s website with a peer review report. I circulated a factual briefing to noble Lords last week, containing examples of how different types of schemes operate overseas, including weight-based, bin-volume and sack-based schemes. We would like to enable local authorities in England to trial these different methods as well, but waste in England is not necessarily collected in the same way as it is in other countries, which have a different demography and types of housing.

Therefore, it is not right to say that one system abroad would be better for England—or for the pilots—than another. We will encourage authorities to introduce their own versions, similar to or different from those abroad, but which are well thought out. Obviously they can learn from practices. They can certainly learn from the PR and explanations involved in putting across such schemes to citizens, and not to be frightened by the ill informed, ignorant journalism on this issue that we sometimes get from certain sections of the tabloid press. That is important because these schemes work. We are not reinventing the wheel; it is not as though this does not happen successfully elsewhere, even within the European Union. That is why the pilots are so important; we want to test the issues.

The noble Lord also asked which councils we are talking to. We are not talking at the moment. We have had discussions with local authorities, but there is no secret list in a drawer in Whitehall of councils that have been lined up to trial these schemes. That is the honest truth. We have not had authorities declaring themselves as potential candidates but we have had several informal conversations with authorities and other stakeholders who want further information.

We are at a very early stage in the legislation. The Bill has come to this House first. It can change as it goes through the parliamentary process but we would not expect to receive formal applications until Parliament has concluded its consideration. Also, we cannot be sure that the authorities asking for information now will be the ones applying formally for the pilot. It is therefore not appropriate to give names of local authorities with which we have had informal discussions. We will develop a more formal process of application, so will look again at that issue for sure. In terms of judging the pilots, we will develop and publish a set of criteria to inform our decisions on which authorities should run them, which is likely to be based on how well the proposal delivers positive environmental and economic results, alongside protection for householders and the environment. That protection is crucial, as is revenue neutrality, so that householders do not feel that they are paying twice for the service.

I have answered some of the points asked by the noble Earl. It is about household waste. The figures I used were given to me on one of my visits by Harper Adams college, which is looking at disposal sites and

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energy derived from wood waste. There is an issue of second-hand wood waste because it has resins, paints and glues, and comes under the waste directive governed by the Environment Agency on new use; the issue is not as easy as one thinks. But the idea of putting 6 million tonnes of wood into landfill is preposterous when we think of the energy that we can get from that in ways that are technically known.

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