Ministers must act over recycling rates says MP McIntosh

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MINISTERS MUST act to increase rates of recycling across England by 2020, MPs warn today.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee also calls on the Government to ensure only genuinely residual waste is sent to energy-from-waste plants and to do more to encourage heat generation from them to improve overall energy efficiency.

The report was triggered by Defra’s decision to step back from areas of waste management.

Committee chairman Anne McIntosh said the move came at a time when a more “ambitious” approach to waste management was needed, as well as stronger Government leadership to drive up static recycling rates.

The MP for Thirsk and Malton said local authorities should retain responsibility for challenges in their areas but urged Defra to take a more active role.

“Ministers must now show that waste policy remains an important priority,” she said.

“Millions of tonnes of waste are thrown away every year, which is bad for the economy and the environment.

“On a household level there is too much confusion about what can or can’t be recycled—and very little confidence in the process. Communication must improve and be tailored to local circumstances, but Defra should provide support at a national level — particularly in relation to common issues and problems.”

The committee also warned that more work is needed to address the issues surrounding separate food waste collections.

Miss McIntosh added: “Too much food waste is still sent to landfill, but separate food waste collections can be disproportionately expensive and difficult to implement in practice.

“The Government must find practical ways to divert more food waste out of the residual stream but in ways that suit local circumstances.”

MPs also call on the Government take action to curb the frequent occurrence of fires at waste management sites.