Defra failing resources test, says industry

9th September 2013

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The waste sector has criticised a consultation document from Defra setting out its proposals for a waste prevention plan (WPP) for England

Industry representatives are warning that the environment department has failed to shift away from narrow waste-focused thinking to a broader vision that encompasses resource efficiency and circular economics.

"It was clear early in the process that a broader, more ambitious and holistic approach to waste prevention as a necessary part of a resource efficient, circular economy was not shared by ministers," said Ray Georgeson, chief executive at the Resource Association.

His counterpart at the Furniture Re-use Network, Greg Anderson, commented: "The content of this consultation gives the reuse sector little hope for a more holistic approach to resource management and product stewardship."

Steve Lee, chief executive at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, was critical of what he described as a "complete absence of any concrete and measurable objectives and actions".

He said the consultation proposals contained far too little on data and the range of metrics needed to measure genuine prevention, and no innovative thinking on policy mechanisms to drive behaviour change.

However, Lord de Mauley, resource management minister at Defra, said: "What we have set out in this programme will help businesses to save money, help people cut back on waste and pass on items that they would otherwise throw away."

He said that businesses could make savings of £17 billion a year by taking simple steps to produce less waste.

The WPP for England - the devolved administrations are developing their own plans - is required under the revised Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC).

However, Georgeson and Lee agree that Defra's proposals take a "bare minimum" approach to compliance, and both warned that the government may struggle to convince the European Commission that its plan is satisfactory.

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