Representatives of major waste organisations have asked for a meeting with new waste minister Rory Stewart to discuss stalled progress in resource management.
In a joint letter to Stewart, seven organisations, including the Environmental Services Association, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management and the Local Authorities Waste Network Coordinators, express concern that progress in several areas of resource management in England has stalled. The bodies say that increases in household recycling rates in England have flatlined, and warn that the country may now not meet the EU target of recycling 50% of household waste by 2020.
The market for recycled materials is weak, making it harder to meet the cost of collecting and sorting it, the letter states. The signatories want to see more done to prevent food waste, and recover it when it cannot be prevented.The industry wants to invest in new facilities for treating, recycling and reprocessing waste, the letter states, but warns that without viable markets these will not materialise. The bodies also want the government to develop clear policy for the next 10-15 years, similar to what the Scottish and Welsh governments have put in place to improve resource management, and discussions on the UK's position on new EU policy on the circular economy, which is the European commission is consulting on.
Finally, the organisations want to discuss plans for tackling waste crime following a recent consultation by Defra, and assurances that the Environment Agency and local authorities have enough resources to deal with it. They also want Treasury ministers involved in the talks, given the implications for the exchequer of waste crime-related tax evasion.
"Waste is a valuable source of materials, energy and nutrients. The industry has grown strongly over recent years despite the adverse economic climate and has the potential to make a further important contribution to growth and job creation," the letter states.
"However, we are concerned that progress in improving resource management in England has stalled and we would like to offer to work with you and your officials at Defra to help turn this situation around," it adds.