WASTE and RECYCLING
I have long been concerned about the environmental consequences of
our collective failure in Britain to recycle enough of our waste . I take a keen
interest both in the Government's policies on waste management and recycling and in
Birmingham City Council's somewhat desultory efforts. I am also a member of
the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Waste Group.
We need a real 'cultural change' if we are to achieve any improvement
in our recycling rates; recycling really does have to become 'a way of life'!
The UK is lagging hopelessly behind other European countries when it comes to
|EU Recycling Rates for 2006
- Netherlands: 65%
- Austria: 59%
- Germany: 58%
- Belgium: 52%
- Sweden: 41%
- Denmark: 41%
- Luxembourg: 36%
- Spain: 35%
- Italy: 29%
- Finland: 28%
- France: 28%
- UK: 18%
- Greece: 8%
- Portugal: 3%
Source: Institute for Public Policy Research
We risk being fined by the EU
England has four years to catch up if it is not to receive fines from the European
Union (EU) ; by 2010, the EU Landfill Directive requires Member States to cut the amount
of biodegradable waste they send to landfills by 25 percent of that produced in 1995.
Waste reductions must reach half the 1995 figures in 2013 and two-thirds by 2020.
Local authorities face tough fines from the government - up to £150 per ton of
rubbish - if England fails to meet the EU directive, and the country will have to meet 40
percent of the 2010 recycling targets to avoid EU sanctions.
EU News: European Parliament votes on revision of Waste
Framework Directive and Thematic Strategy on the Recycling of Waste - 13 February 2007
In order to catch up we need to be much more ambitious about our
national recycling targets. I would like to see a 50% recycling rate by 2010,
whereas currently the Government's target for England is only 50% by 2020. In my
view we need a political framework that does more to force businesses and individuals
themselves to take responsibility for the rubbish they produce. That is why I am in favour of variable charging,
and supported the Local Government Association's recent call for the
Government to give local councils the powers to implement charging schemes to encourage
waste prevention, reuse, recycling and composting.
Recycling in Birmingham
As the largest local authority in Europe, Birmingham City Council should be
leading the way in waste recycling, rather than lagging, 286th in 2006, among UK local
authorities, especially when the UK is itself is the 3rd worst recycling
laggard within Europe. In comparison with other West Midland
councils Birmingham is also doing badly.
|Recycling: How West Midland Councils Compare
|Figures from Department of Environment, Food and Rural
Despite my lobbying the Council since 2001 (see the previous postings link below),
it doesn't seem able to get past the pilot stage with many of its recycling schemes.
For some time now I have been
lobbying Birmingham City Council to put in place city-wide collection and proper
facilities for recycling of plastics, in response to the considerable demand from local
people - I frequently receive letters from constituents on this subject. Click
here to see a copy of Cllr. Gregory's response to me of 8
In November 2006 I raised the
issue via an Oral Parliamentary Question (PQ) to the Environment Minister, Ben Bradshaw,
which I have reproduced below:
Hansard 2 Nov 2006 : Column 443
Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): I am ashamed to have
to say that, at 17 per cent. waste recycling, Birmingham city council came 286th in the
league tables. Hopefully that will improve with the recent garden waste doorstep
collection, but doorstep collection of glass and plastic still takes place only on a pilot
basis and there is still no collection point to which people can take their waste
plastics. The council has attributed that to the lack of a plastics processor in Birmingham
and the need to feed the Tyseley energy-from-waste incinerator. Does my hon. Friend share
my concern that the existence of energy-from-waste plants is discouraging councils from
recycling or from setting up facilities that allow
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Bradshaw: I do not
accept my hon. Friends point, although I hope that Birmingham city council
Mr. Dennis Skinner
(Bolsover) (Lab): It is Tory.
Mr. Bradshaw: As my hon.
Friend reminds the House, it is a Conservative council. I hope that it makes more of an
effort to provide the sort of facilities that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham,
Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) describes. Plastics and glass are collected by many local
authorities around the country. There is a good price for plastics at the moment because
of the high oil price. As many hon. Members will know, we export quite a lot of our waste
for recycling in other countries. I am not quite sure why there is a particular problem in
her region, but I will certainly look into the matter and write to her. She is right to
say that it is important that, as we move towards more energy from waste, we do not take
the pressure off increased recycling. Recycling is still a much better environmental
option than incinerationshe is right to say thatbut incineration is better
Unfortunately the Speaker cut me off
mid-sentence, but what I wanted to go on to say was this:
or from setting up
facilities that allow options further up the waste hierarchy? i.e. recycling
facilities, such as a plastics recycling facility. "
On 5th December 2006 I followed up my PQ
by writing to Ben Bradshaw MP. To read his response, click on pages 1 and 2.
Read my letter of 13th December 2006 to Cllr.
Gregory about a number of recycling issues. I have subsequently been informed
that the plastics collected in the pilot recycling scheme are sent to recycling
facilities outside Birmingham, however, this does not alter the fact that plastics
recycling should be a Birmingham-wide service not a pilot scheme
Previous postings on refuse collection and recycling in Birmingham