Skip to content

Response to the Report of the Inquiry by the Environment, Planning and Countryside Committee into Meeting landfill and Recycling Targets

Related Links

Certain information on this site requires that you have the right software to view it. This page offers links to freely available viewers and readers.
Carwyn Jones, Minister for Environment ,Planning and Countryside

Recommendations to the Welsh Assembly Government


The Assembly Government’s responses to the Report’s recommendations are set out below:


Targets, landfill, composting, waste minimisation


Recommendation 1:  That the Welsh Assembly Government identifies local authorities that may struggle to meet the 40 per cent recycling /composting target for 2009–10 and works with them to ensure appropriate measures are put in place to achieve the target.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government is already working directly with local authorities and has identified perhaps two or three which may struggle to meet the 25% combined recycling and composting target in 2007-08.  The Assembly Government will continue to work with these authorities. The WLGA Peer Review Programme also provides insight and assistance future capabilities.  Assessing preparation for and performance against the 2006-07 target will further help to identify authorities at risk of missing the 2009-10 target.

Financial implications:  none, this work is already programmed.

 

Recommendation 2:  That the Welsh Assembly Government ensures that municipal waste management strategies are used as the main tool for individual local authorities to plan for their waste management needs and the delivery of Welsh Assembly Government and European targets.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government considers that local authorities can only achieve targets under the Wales waste strategy and obligations under the Landfill Allowances Scheme (LAS) on the basis of detailed planning.  However as part of the wider approach to Plan Rationalisation we are seeking to reduce the burden on local authorities of producing statutory plans recognising that actual performance is important rather than the production of a plan.  We therefore do not propose to make the production of Municipal Waste Management Strategies a statutory obligation for all local authorities.  However both we and the WLGA recognise the importance of local authorities meeting their targets in the Wales waste strategy and their obligations under the LAS.  We therefore intend to take powers under Section 29 of the Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003 which will allow us to require individual local authorities to produce municipal waste management strategies.  We would use these powers where there is concern that they will not meet their targets under the Wales waste strategy or they are failing to meet obligations under the LAS and are unable to provide other evidence of how they will comply with these requirements.

Financial implications:  none, this work is already programmed.


Recommendation 3:  That local authorities fully utilise source segregation of recyclable materials and make this as user-friendly as possible. (In making this recommendation, the Committee agrees with the Welsh Assembly Government’s view that while householders should segregate recyclable material at source, local authorities should be allowed the flexibility to choose how segregated materials are collected, e.g. kerbside sorting, clean MRF or bring sites).

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government considers that source segregation will provide better quality recyclable materials and will help householders identify the value of the materials that they discard.

Financial implications:  none.



Recommendation 4: That the Welsh Assembly Government removes the perverse incentive for local authorities not to encourage home composting, and develops a mechanism that allows home composting to count towards local authority landfill diversion targets. Local authorities should encourage householders to compost at home.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government wishes to introduce a system which recognises local authorities’ efforts in promoting home composting.  Before we can do this we need a robust methodology which will allow the effect of home composting to be accounted for in local authorities’ diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill under the Landfill Allowances Scheme (LAS).  This is now under development by the Waste and Resources Action Programme.  The methodology must be sufficiently robust to support reporting performance to the European Commission against obligations under the Landfill Directive and to support the landfill allowances trading arrangements in England and Scotland When it is available local authorities in Wales (where there is no trading under LAS) will be allowed to apply it retrospectively to previous years’ data.

Financial implications:  none, this is already an effective way for local authorities to use existing resources and will become more so once the protocol is in place in Wales.



Recommendation 5:  That the Welsh Assembly Government introduces material-specific targets for recycling of bulky but low weight materials such as plastics.

Response:  The Assembly Government cannot accept this recommendation at this time .  The Assembly Government wishes to encourage local authorities to recycle plastic and many are already doing so. However the  Assembly Government will undertake to research   the possible effect of introducing materials specific targets in line with this recommendation in the revision of the Wales waste strategy and will seek the views of stakeholders.  The Government will inform the Assembly of the outcome of the research and whether, as a result, the Government subsequently takes forward the recommendation.

Financial implications:  it is difficult to assess these at this stage although there are unlikely to be significant additional costs as existing arrangements for collecting recyclable materials can be used.  This aspect will be considered during the research into this issue...

 


Recommendation 6:  That local authorities continue to work in partnership with the community, voluntary and private sectors in developing minimisation, re-use and recycling schemes in their areas, recognising the particular skills and expertise that these organisations can contribute to the delivery of targets.

Response:  The Assembly Government supports this recommendation.  The Assembly Government has allocated considerable resources via the Strategic Recycling Scheme (£6.8 million over three years) supported by European Structural Funds, to support partnership arrangements between local authorities and the community sector, which can also involve private sector partners.

Financial implications:  none.

 

Recommendation 7: That the Welsh Assembly Government makes representations to the UK Government to introduce measures to promote waste minimisation / penalise unnecessary waste creation. The Committee believes that the UK Government should consider producer-responsibility levies and tax reductions on more environmentally-friendly products. The UK Government’s response should be made available to the Committee.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government will continue to encourage the UK Government and organisations such as WRAP to introduce waste minimisation initiatives.  The Assembly Government will report on this work to the Committee.

Financial implications:  none, this work is already programmed.



Planning / regional working


Recommendation 8:  That Regional Waste Plans should be made statutory.

Response:  The Assembly Government does not accept this recommendation.  The Assembly Government recognises the desire to make the waste planning regime more certain and rigorous.  The current regional waste plans were not produced on a statutory basis and could not therefore be made statutory without risk of judicial review.  New plans would have to be agreed and, given their statutory nature it would be much more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the agreement of the participating local authorities.  Even with agreement statutory plans would take a lot longer to finalise with requirements for Strategic Environmental assessment having come into force in the interim.  During the process of producing statutory regional waste plans there would be the risk that other planning activity for waste would be delayed.  The current plans already have the status of material considerations in the planning process and can be amended with greater flexibility than statutory plans.  The certainty needed by applicants for planning approval can be provided in other ways, notably through local development plans.

 

Recommendation 9:  That, in the meantime, Regional Waste Plans should be revised to ensure they identify suitable geographical locations for regional facilities and that the Welsh Assembly Government provides local authorities with clearer guidance to deliver this objective.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government has already issued advice to all local authorities (in the form of a circular letter dated 28th May 2004) about suitable geographical locations for waste management facilities. The  Assembly Government has also recently funded research on a GIS base which will enable the three Regional Waste Groups to locate potential areas of search for locating sub-regional waste facilities.  With this additional mapping work to hand, the next revision of the Regional Waste Plans – due next year - could/should perhaps identify suitable sites for regional scale facilities – the Regional Waste Plan would be the most appropriate vehicle for this.

Financial implications:  none, the review of the regional waste plans is already planned for 2006-07.

 


Recommendation 10:  That private sector engagement with local authorities should be promoted more vigorously via the Wales Waste Forum, Welsh Local Government Association and regional waste groups.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  Private sector involvement in the implementation of the Wales waste strategy is already actively sought and WESA and other industry representatives are represented on e.g. the Wales Waste Forum, the Forum’s hazardous waste working group, the regional waste plan working groups etc.  This active engagement with the private sector will continue.

Financial implications:  none.

 

Recommendation 11: That the Welsh Assembly Government provides clear advice and guidance on the sustainability of different waste management options.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Environment Agency, the Assembly Government’s statutory adviser on waste management issues, already provides information on the effect of different waste management methods via its Waste Technologies Data Centre and  this is rapidly becoming more comprehensive.  Guidance is also already provided in the Assembly Government’s Waste Strategy, Wise About Waste, and in the Regional Waste Plans.

Financial implications:  none.




Recommendation 12:  That the Welsh Assembly Government provides clearer guidelines to local authorities on:
i. which technologies it would like to see operating in Wales and which it wishes to discourage;
ii. which technologies should be used to deal with residual waste until it is possible to eliminate it.

Response:  The Assembly Government does not fully accept this recommendation  .  The Assembly Government has deliberately not been prescriptive with local authorities over the choice of technologies for waste management beyond emphasising the need for clean recylates and compostables in order to ensure marketability of these materials.  However the Assembly Government will undertake to provide more guidance to local authorities on how residual waste should be treated in the light of  the progress that local authorities have made in diverting material away from landfillDiscussions with stakeholders on this issue have already started via the Wales Waste Forum.

Financial implications:  none.

 


Recommendation 13:  That the Welsh Assembly Government provides assistance and guidance to local authorities on how best practice from elsewhere in the UK, Europe and worldwide can be applied in Wales.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  This is part of the remit carried out by the Environment Agency as referred to in response to Recommendation 11.  The Assembly Government also commissions seminars, and supports other organisation’s seminars, that showcase best practice.  Extensive guidance on best practice is also available in the published literature and on various institutions’ web sites.  However it would not represent a good use of public funds to duplicate the ample guidance already in existence.

Financial implications:  none.

 

 

Funding



Recommendation 14: That the Welsh Assembly Government provides an indication to local authorities of the level of capital and operational funding that will be available to them until at least 2013, in order to enable long-term planning and business security.

Response:  The Assembly Government does not accept this recommendation.  The Assembly Government cannot give local authorities this assurance.  The Assembly Government has a three year budget cycle and already gives indications of grant support for sustainable waste management to local authorities on this basis.

 

Recommendation 15:  That the Welsh Assembly Government provides regional hypothecation of some waste management funding to encourage local authorities to work together on developing regional facilities, especially for more specialised facilities such as composting of kitchen waste.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation in principle. .  The initial draft budget presented to the National Assembly included an additional £5 million for waste management capital projects.

Financial implications:  none.



Recommendation 16: That the Welsh Assembly Government provides sufficient funding to ensure that local authorities are able to roll out kerbside collection systems to a level consistent with securing the delivery of recycling, composting and landfill diversion targets.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government is providing local authorities with resources to support recycling and composting rising to £35 million in 2007-08, plus specific funding for the Strategic Recycling Scheme (£15 million including European Structural Fund support between 2004-05 and 2006-07).  The Assembly Government has allocated over £160 million to support sustainable waste management by local authorities for the period 2002-03 to 2007-08.

Financial implications:  none, the Assembly Government already allocates significant resources.



Recommendation 17:  That the Welsh Assembly Government provides a central source of advice to local authorities on legal, contractual and funding issues to enable them to access expertise, reduce expenditure and improve success in securing external sources of funding, including European funds.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government is working with Value Wales and the WLGA to consider how to deliver this support.  It may also be possible to share advice and support on a best practice basis between local authorities.

Financial implications:  none.

 


Public Awareness


Recommendation 18:  That sustained, local, targeted education should be introduced to reduce, re-use and recycle.  Liaison officers should be appointed in each local authority to visit residents and schools, to run road shows, etc., to increase householders’ knowledge of what they can do, what can be done with recycled materials and how individuals’ actions impact on the local environment and community.  Initiatives should include the use of incentive schemes and positive feedback on how well schemes are doing and how they benefit the local community.

Response:  The Assembly Government supports this recommendation.  Much of this activity is already in hand: the Assembly Government funds the Waste Awareness Wales organisation (£800,000 per year, including the media campaign) to carry out local awareness campaigns in support of local authorities’ own campaigns.  

Financial implications:  none.

 

Recommendation 19: That the Welsh Assembly Government encourages more schools to be part of the ‘eco-schools’ programme run by Keep Wales Tidy. The benefits of the programme should be more widely promoted in terms of education, compatibility with curricula and the potential for cost savings for the school.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government and partner organisations are funding the Eco-Schools project (£200,000 per year between 2005-06 and 2007-08) to extend the number of Eco-Schools, which promote the importance of waste management and recycling, to 1500 of the 1971 schools in Wales by 2008.  The Assembly Government is also ensuring co-ordination between the Eco-Schools project and other related educational initiatives.

Financial implications:  none, this work is already programmed.

 

Recommendation 20: That the Welsh Assembly Government works with Environment Agency Wales and local authorities to build public confidence in the monitoring and pollution prevention processes in place for waste treatment facilities. This could include education initiatives in schools and communities near such facilities, tours of facilities, community liaison officers and working with schools / eco-schools.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  We will work with the Environment Agency and other partners to deliver this.  Increasing the acceptability of waste management facilities by the public is already scheduled to be part of the Waste Awareness Wales campaign.

Financial implications:  none, this work is already programmed.



Recommendation 21:  That the Welsh Assembly Government maintains funding of organisations that contribute to promoting recycling and composting.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government provides funding support for Cylch, Keep Wales Tidy, Waste Awareness Wales, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), Envirowise, the Wales Environment Trust (WET), and Arena Network.  All funding is kept under review but there are no plans to change these support arrangements at present.

Financial implications:  none, this funding is already in place.




Markets / business support


Recommendation 22:  That the Welsh Assembly Government encourages and supports business to create recycled products and markets by:
i. providing greater financial and business support, including research and development funding, for new and existing businesses in Wales to use recyclate from the municipal waste stream, create recycled products and develop markets for recycled goods and services;
ii. encouraging business to apply for European funding to help develop their businesses;
ii. supporting the development of a recycling facility for farm plastics and a market for the products. (While not directly within the remit of the inquiry, the Committee recognises that agricultural waste and farm plastics are important issues).

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government already provides substantial financial and other support for businesses seeking to use recyclate via WRAP and WET and via the other business support mechanisms.  The Assembly Government is keeping the situation with regard to farm plastics under close review in the light of several new companies coming into that market in Wales and the possible effect of producer responsibility arrangements that may be introduced across the UK.  The Assembly Government recognises the Committee’s interest in this area and will keep it informed of developments.

Financial implications:  none, this work is already programmed.



Recommendation 23: That the Welsh Assembly Government provides help and advice to public sector organisations, including local authorities, to procure more recycled products and that this should be built into the normal procurement process.  The Welsh Assembly Government should be an exemplar in procuring recycled products.

Response: The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  The Assembly Government is working with the public sector through Value Wales and its Sustainable Procurement Pathfinder initiative and with WRAP to make progress in this area.

Financial implications:  none.



Recommendation 24:  That the Welsh Assembly Government encourages and supports businesses to reduce, re-use and recycle waste by:
i. working with Wales-based businesses, particularly large retailers, to encourage waste minimisation, consumer education and provision of recycling facilities;
ii. providing advice and support for Wales-based companies to reduce waste and make the best use of waste, in particular by providing a central source of advice for businesses / organisations on how to audit waste streams, reduce and recycle waste and make cost savings.

Response:  The Assembly Government accepts this recommendation.  Most retail activity is delivered via UK wide retail companies.  The Assembly Government is actively working with WRAP through its retailer initiative and will be seeking to ensure that the findings of this initiative are applied in Wales.  In respect of other businesses the Assembly Government has invested £9.5 million in a Materials Action Programme to support businesses in Wales in eco-design, resource efficiency and waste minimisation and sustainable waste management.

Financial implications:  none, this work is already programmed.

 

Research and development

Recommendation 25:  That the Welsh Assembly Government
i. encourages the setting up of exemplar / demonstration projects to illustrate to local authorities and the general public how different technologies operate;
ii. funds research and development and commercial-scale field trials / demonstration projects for potential treatment options for residual waste, until it is possible to eliminate it, in order to inform local authority choices;
iii. funds research and development into the innovative use of recycled materials to make new products.

Response:  The Assembly Government does not accept this recommendation.
In respect of recommendations i and ii, The Assembly Government is not in the position to fund the development of new or untried technologies, nor do we consider that this would be the best use of the limited resources available to us. We do however consider that there is more scope to make local authorities aware of existing examples of best practice and technologies, to complement the work of the Environment Agency referred to above, and we will consider with the WLGA how best to do this.  
In respect of recommendation iii, most relevant R&D funding has not been devolved and remains with Defra, but local authorities in Wales will be able to visit the “Demonstrator” projects that are being funded by Defra in England (where funding is of a sufficient scale to finance such high technology projects).  The Assembly Government already funds the Waste and Resources Action Programme which has developed innovative uses for recycled materials, notably glass.