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Recycled Plastic

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress she has made in creating a market for recycled plastic; and if she will make a statement. [23879]

Mr. Meacher: The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) was created in January 2001 to create stable and efficient markets for recycled materials and products, and to help remove barriers to waste minimisation, re-use and recycling.

Plastics are one of WRAP's seven set targets to increase mixed plastics recycling by 20,000 tonnes for industrial products and raise awareness of the range and quality of recycled products available.

On 5 December WRAP announced that they are funding a series of six regional workshops on plastics recycling to be delivered by the plastics recycling body, RECOUP. These seminars will focus on plastics collection and procurement, as well as providing a showcase for products.

Environment Council

Mr. Jim Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of the Environment Council held in Brussels on 12 to 13 December; what the Government's position was on each issue discussed, including their voting record; and if she will make a statement. [23887]

Mr. Meacher: I represented the UK at the Environment Council held in Brussels on 12 December 2001. This was the final Environment Council of the Belgian presidency. Council reached political agreement on two common positions, with the UK voting in favour of both. Council agreed conclusions on a wide-ranging set of topics: sustainable development, international environmental governance, a review of the pesticides authorisation directive (91/414 EC), a Commission Communication on the first phase of the European Climate Change Programme and a Communication on a strategy for dioxins, furans and PCBs. There was a policy debate on a proposed directive setting up an EU greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme.

There were four items on the agenda under the heading of Climate Change. Council heard a report back on the successful outcome of the Seventh Conference of the Parties (COP7) in Marrakech, which took place between 29 October and 10 November. The importance of member states now pressing ahead with ratification of the Kyoto

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Protocol was stressed. Council also heard a presidency progress report on a decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Once the decision is agreed individual member states and the EU will be able to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the expectation being that they will do so before the World Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2002.

Council conclusions were also agreed on the implementation of the first phase of the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP), a package of common and co-ordinated policies and measures to reduced greenhouse gas emissions that has been prepared in discussion with member states and stakeholders.

During an orientation debate on a proposed EU greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme all member states expressed support for the establishment of such a scheme. Member states were split on whether the initial phase should have voluntary or mandatory participation. There was broad agreement, however, that credits should be allocated free of charge during the initial phase, and there was also broad support for starting with carbon dioxide alone, with a view to extending the scheme to other greenhouse gases in the future.

Political agreement on a common position was agreed on a proposed directive to bring community rules into line with the second pillar of the Aarhus Convention dealing with public consultation in environmental decision- making. The Council endorsed European Parliament amendment aiming to improve information to the public about decisions taken, and to enhance the use of electronic media. The Commission wanted the proposal to apply to updating of all permits, including very minor changes. The common position will only apply in such cases likely to give rise to significant environmental effects. The Commission reserved its position to return to the issue at second reading.

Council reached political agreement on a proposal to introduce sulphur-free (<10 ppm) petrol and diesel in every member state from 1 January 2005 alongside existing fuels. Council agreed that from 1 January 2009 the use of this fuel should be mandatory. The proposal will mean lower exhaust emissions and will facilitate improvements in fuel economy in the future. The UK achieved its key objective of ensuring that the agreement would not impose fuel quality restrictions on fuel (diesel) used by non-road mobile machines (NRMM's) in advance of a full Commission review of the costs and benefits of such a measure. Council agreed conclusions in response to the Commission's communication on a strategy for dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls. The strategy proposes a number of actions aimed at preventing the formation and release of these substances; further identification of sources; establishment of indicators; and faster, cheaper measurement methods. Council broadly welcomed the Commission's approach, and asked for it to consider a number of options, including the setting of limit values for emissions under the integrated pollution prevent and control directive, improved measurement methods, and possible instruments for the control of non-industrial sources of emissions.

Council heard a brief presidency progress report on the proposed regulation on traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms. Some provisional agreement had been reached on parts of the text, although issues such as the scope, and the treatment of derived

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products, need further work. The UK supports the need for an effective traceability and labelling system to deliver reliable information and dependable consumer choice.

Council Conclusions on the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) clarified the role of Environment Council and its complementarity to other Council formations and the General Affairs Council's general co-ordinating role; offered views on the four priorities identified by the Gothenburg European Council and promoted the development of an external dimension to the EU SDS. Council asked the permanent representatives to report back on how to improve arrangements for co-ordinating work on sustainable development. On Global Environmental Governance, Council agreed Conclusions underlining the need to strengthen international environmental structures, as part of the preparations for, and follow up to, the World Summit on Sustainable Development. They referred to the need to strengthen the financial situation of the United Nations Environment Programme, including a call for countries to step up their efforts to contribute at the level of the UN assessed rate.

Conclusions on the Commission's evaluation of the Pesticides Authorisation Directive (91/414 EC) broadly supported the Commission's approach. Council recognised that the review of existing active substances could not be completed within the current timetable of end of 2003. It therefore extended the period for the review to the end of 2008 but to only the end of 2005 for higher priority substances. Council also called on the Commission to cover a number of detailed issues in further work in this area including the proposed revision of the directive and a thematic strategy on pesticides.

The Commission presented a proposal for the revision of directive 96/82 (Seveso II), and a proposal for the revision of recovery and recycling targets in the directive on packaging and packaging waste. The Commission also gave progress reports on proposed directives on an EU chemicals strategy, recycling of batteries and accumulators and air quality limits for heavy metals in ambient air. The UK drew members states' attention to the problems for air quality posed by rising background levels of ozone precursors, and asked the Commissioner to consider what action was necessary.

Council also heard progress reports on a thematic strategy for the sustainable use of pesticides and on the revision of Regulation 2455/92 (trade in certain dangerous chemicals) which is necessary to enable the EC to become a Party to the Rotterdam Convention. There were also progress reports on the ratification of the Rotterdam Convention and the IMO Convention on TBT, and on Community implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The Commission also briefed Council on the progress of accession negotiations on the environment with the candidate countries.

Over lunch Ministers held a discussion on Global Environmental Governance and the outcome of the recent WTO negotiations in Doha. Ministers agreed to press Heads of Government to attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, and to include a commitment to that effect in the Laeken European Council conclusions.

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Liquid Refrigerants

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the cost per unit for the disposal of the liquid refrigerant in (a) refrigerators, (b) deep-freezers, (c) fridge-freezers and (d) air conditioning units. [24169]

Mr. Meacher: It is estimated that the disposal of liquid refrigerants, through high temperature incineration, costs approximately £1–2/kg. The cost will vary with the type of container and the size of the consignment. The volume of refrigerant is usually between 70–300 grams depending on the size of appliance, although large air conditioning units can contain rather more refrigerant. This would result in a cost of between seven and 60p per unit.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she has taken to ensure the separation of different types of refrigerant liquids extracted from waste appliances. [24167]

Mr. Meacher: Under EC Regulation No. 2037/2000 all CFCs removed from waste appliances must be destroyed. The effect of Articles 9 and 10 of the waste framework directive is to require the disposal or recovery of waste to be carried out under the terms of a permit issued by the Environment Agency. The conditions set by the agency in these permits control matters such as the separation of different types of liquid extracted from waste appliances.

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