DELIVERING SUSTAINABLE WASTE MANAGEMENT
210. Given that less than 30% of the public have
any understanding of what happens to their waste, it is self-evident
that they need to be better informed about waste.
Further, given the expansion of waste facilities and the need
for public assistance with sorting their waste, the public need
to be engaged as well as informed.
211. In our 1998 Report, we concluded that "there
must be far greater education of the public as to the importance
of waste avoidance and the hierarchy."
Many witnesses offered support for the existing information programmes
such as the National Waste Awareness Initiative but also suggested
that much more will be needed to bring about the necessary change
For example, the National Curriculum could include waste education
so as to ensure that the next generation are aware of the importance
of this matter. Public education will also need to explain the
options for change and make clear that this involves costs and
requires commitment and hard choices from the public. As United
Waste Services noted, it is important that the public "understand
and accept their own roles and responsibilities in delivering
212. At present, much of the public involvement comprises
opposition to the siting of waste management facilities which,
although understandable, does not directly help to bring improvement
in waste management. The key is to harness that energy and use
it to increase the amount of recycling undertaken, to encourage
householders to minimise the amount of waste produced. More critically,
householders will have to separate their waste into the different
recyclable components if we are to achieve our recycling targets.
Research seems to show that householders are more likely to co-operate
when they believe that Government and business are playing their
part in bringing about improvement.
213. In recommending that the public be involved,
we are aware that this takes time and energy and does not, in
itself, guarantee a successful local or national waste strategy.
But, without public education, consultation and engagement, the
chances of us ever developing a more sustainable waste management
system are slim indeed. At present the public are ill-informed
and misled about what happens to their waste. If we are to be
successful in moving waste from the bottom to the top of the hierarchy,
a major public programme is required to educate, persuade and
involve the public in waste management issues. If such a campaign
is to be successful, the public must be convinced that Government
and business are also working to change things.
214. We have been extremely disappointed with the
lack of ambition and vigour shown by the main players in waste.
The Government's Waste Strategy 2000 fails to provide vision
or strategy in a sector which is badly lacking both.
215. The Waste Strategy should spell out what we
want done with our waste in ten, twenty and thirty years time.
Efficient resource use and waste minimisation must take priority
and should run through all aspects of policy, from local waste
strategies to national fiscal policy. The ridiculous state of
planning for a 3% year-on-year increase in household waste whilst
weakly advocating waste minimisation must be addressed. The concept
of 'zero waste' is one which is gaining recognition in some parts
of the world but seems to have left UK policy makers untouched.
Although we are doubtful that 'zero waste' can ever be achieved,
the very fact of aiming for no waste is precisely what should
be driving waste strategy.
216. Under the current strategy, we risk making only
moderate progress towards increasing recycling and composting
whilst tying ourselves into an incineration-dominated future.
To ensure that this does not happen, we must set more ambitious
long-term targets and provide signals of what waste management
should look like. We need stronger leadership from Government
on waste. Central Government, local Government and business must
examine their attitudes and policies on waste. It is not good
enough to shuffle along in a laggardly fashion behind European
Union Directives. There are sufficient examples from here and
abroad which show what can be done and how to do it. Nothing will
change until everyone in waste starts to believe that things can
be changed. We, and many others, believe they can. It is time
for the rest to join us.
325 Q1087 Back
Page xi, Sustainable Waste Management, Environment, Transport
and Regional Affairs Committee, HC 484-I (1997-98), paragraph
See, for example, Ev p5, p10, p44, p185 (HC 903-II) Back
Ev p53 (HC 903-II) Back
Ev p6 (HC 903-II) Back