Posts Tagged ‘low carbon choices’

Wales proposes 7p charge for single-use bags

Monday, June 7th, 2010

The number of single use carrier bags used in Wales looks set to plummet under Welsh Assembly Government proposals announced today (June 4) to introduce a seven pence charge for them from Spring 2011.

 However, campaign groups have attacked the proposal, claiming existing voluntary agreements and recycling initiatives would have a better environmental impact than the planned tax.


Wales proposes 7p charge for single-use bags

Wales proposes 7p charge for single-use bags

The announcement of proposals for the tax on single-use carrier bags come as the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) looks to reduce the over 400 million carrier bags currently distributed in the retail sector in the country.

Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson will today launch a second consultation on the proposed tax today (June 4) at the Hay Festival for literature and arts, in a bid to gauge responses to the proposed seven pence charge.

Under the proposals, a seven pence charge would be placed on bags from Spring 2010. It had been anticipated that the WAG would look to introduce a tax of between five and 15 pence per bag under a four-month consultation launched in June 2009 (see story).


The second round of consultation, which closes on August 2 2010, is also seeking views on whether there should be exemptions for certain types of bags used to carry unpackaged food or pharmacy medicines and whether there should be a voluntary agreement with retailers to ensure profits from the charge are passed to environmental or community projects.

Commenting on the proposed charge, Ms Davidson said: “Carrier bags are an iconic symbol of the throwaway society in which we live. Whilst I know that reducing our use of single use carrier bags is not going to solve all our environmental problems, the charge delivers an important message about the need for us to live much more sustainable lives.

“I believe the seven pence charge is high enough to encourage consumers to change their shopping habits but not so high that it will stop impulse shopping or create a significant burden when we have forgotten reusable bags.

“I am confident that the Welsh public will embrace the carrier bag charge and see it as positive step towards preserving our beautiful countryside and helping Wales to reduce its carbon footprint.

A study undertaken by environmental consultancy AEA in October 2009 claimed that there was “good evidence” for Wales to introduce a charge, and added that the WAG should follow an example set by the Republic of Ireland with its Plastax Levy in 2002 (see story).


Responding to the WAG proposal, the Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC) – an alliance of carrier bag manufacturers – hit out at the proposed levy and claimed that the Welsh Assembly Government was “ignoring the science” by proceeding with plans for the charge.

A spokesman for the organisation told “We don’t believe that there is any such thing as a ‘single-use’ carrier bag, as is claimed by the Welsh Assembly Government, as we know from Defra statistics that 80% are reused at least once for something or other, for things like bin bags.”

The spokesman also pointed to a voluntary agreement put in place by WRAP with retailers over the past two years, which saw single-use carrier bag distribution fall by 48% compared to 2006 levels (see story).

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“We know the number of bags being wasted and we know that people have been made to think about whether they need a bag, which is the primary principle for the tax being given by the Welsh Minister,” he said.

Furthermore, the spokesman identified the growing number of recycling points at major supermarkets, which he said now totalled “over 3,000”, which allow shoppers to deposit used bags into a dedicated container for recycling. The spokesman stressed: “What this will do is not help the environment at all.”


Latest data sees England hit 38.8% recycling rate

Monday, May 10th, 2010

England achieved a 38.8% household waste recycling rate for the year ending September 2009, according to the latest quarterly data published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


The recycling rate in England hit 38.8% for the year ending September, although the rate of its increase has slowed

The recycling rate in England hit 38.8% for the year ending September, although the rate of its increase has slowed

The figure is drawn from data for the second quarter of 2010 (July to September 2009) submitted to the government’s waste database WasteDataFlow, which showed a 42% household waste recycling rate for the quarter. 

When taken as a 12-month view to limit the impact of seasonal fluctuations, this represents a 38.8% recycling rate, which is a 0.5% improvement on the rolling year for July 2008 to June 2009, where England achieved a 38.3% recycling rate (see story).

Furthermore, the latest rolling year figure is a 2.8% improvement on the same period for 2007/08.
The data also shows that the total municipal waste generated in England decreased by 0.44 million tonnes (1.6%) for the year ending September 2009 compared to the same period the year before. This meant that municipal waste arisings fell from 27.33 million tonnes to 26.89 million tonnes over this period.

In addition, household waste arisings also fell over this period, which dropped from 24.3 million tonnes in 2007/08 to 23.9 million tonnes – a decline of 1.7%. Furthermore, waste to landfill decreased by 5.0% from 13.8 million tonnes to 13.1 million tonnes.

The average residual household waste per person decreased from 295kg for the financial year (April 2008 to March 2009), to 284kg per head between October 2008 and September 2009.

The best performing regions for the rolling year were Eastern England (43%) and the East Midlands (45.2%). These two areas were also the best performing regions for the previous quarter.


When looked at in a wider context, Defra is aiming for England to achieve an average 40% household waste recycling target by 2010, which was set out in the Waste Strategy for England 2007, a target is matched by those for municipal waste set by the devolved governments.

However, the provisional data shows that the continual 3% improvement needed each quarter for England to obtain the 40% recycling goal slowed, as the rate only rose by 2% compared to the same quarter the year before.

At the current rate, with 3% progression achieved in the final two quarters of 2009/10, England would reach a 40.25% recycling rate once all the returns for the 2009/10 financial year have been collated. However, if the next two quarters follow the rate of progression shown in quarter two and only increase by 2% compared to the same quarters the year before then the rate would be 39.75% for 2009/10.

The slowing of the rate of increase between the quarters in England comes as Northern Ireland reported that its municipal and its household waste recycling rates increased by only 1% in the past two quarters rose by 1% compared to the same quarters the year before. This was compared to an average 3% increase for the quarters before (see story).

And, publication of the results comes as the Scottish environmental watchdog SEPA warned that the slowing of its own municipal waste recycling rate during 2008 means that it would be “challenging” to hit its own 40% target for 2010 (see story).

Data covering the third quarter of 2009/10 (October to December 2009) for English councils is expected to be published by Defra on August 5 2010. The results can be subjected to revisions by local authorities during the course of the year. Fully audited final figures for 2009/10 are expected to be published in November 2010.

Waste sector awaits election outcome

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

As the country goes to the polls today (May 6), councils and businesses are watching closely to see what the national and local elections will mean for the waste and recycling sector.


Latest polls suggest there could be a hung parliament

Latest polls suggest there could be a hung parliament

In what has been widely heralded as the most wide-open election of recent years, all 650 constituencies across the UK are set to vote for one Member of Parliament (MP) each, while council elections are also to be held in many parts of England. Top of the agenda for any new government will be tackling the country’s national debt, with sweeping public spending cuts expected regardless of who comes to power. This in turn is likely to impact upon local authority waste management budgets and central government support for the sector.

While waste and recycling has not been a focal point of the election campaign, the three main parties have addressed the issue in their manifestoes with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives all aspiring to a “zero waste nation” and each pledging to set up a bank to fund green infrastructure.

However, there are also differences in their approach to waste – with the Conservatives advocating incentives and voluntary agreements to increase recycling while the Liberal Democrats have thrown their support behind more binding measures such as variable charging and Labour has remained adamant that councils should be left to choose.

Below is a summary of what each party has committed to with regards to waste if they come to power.


• Introduce a Responsibility Deal on waste – a voluntary arrangement among producers to cut back on the production of waste and improve its disposal in a bid to move towards a goal of a zero-waste society
• Encourage councils to reward people for recycling.
• Provide funding for councils to provide weekly waste collections.
• Put a floor under the standard rate of landfill tax until 2020, in order to encourage alternative forms of waste disposal.
• Abolish any quangos that do not perform a technical function or a function that requires political impartiality, or act independently to establish facts.
• Abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), instead returning the final decision on large-scale projects including energy-from-waste facilities to a Minister.
• Create a Green Investment Bank to draw together money currently divided across existing government initiatives to finance private sector investment and new green technology start-ups.
• Give local authorities the power to establish district heating networks which use biogas and other low carbon fuels.


• Drive the introduction of ‘recycling on the go’, with separated public bins on the street and in shopping centres.
• Move towards a ‘zero waste’ Britain by stimulating the sustainable use of resources and banning recyclable and biodegradable materials from landfill.
• Create a ‘Green Investment Bank’ to invest £2 billion in low carbon infrastructure.
• Ensure 40% of Britain’s electricity will come from low-carbon sources, including renewables, by 2020.
• Develop the IPC to speed up decision-making on major projects.
• Create 400,000 new green jobs by 2015.
• Seek to drive down the costs of regulation by more than £6 billion by 2015.

Liberal Democrats

• Give councils the power to introduce variable waste charging – allowing those residents who recycle less to be charged.
• Set targets for ‘zero waste’ including less packaging, more recycling and a huge increase in anaerobic digestion to generate energy from food and farm waste.
• Improve resource efficiency and reduce waste through better produce standards and reducing excess packaging.
• Introduce sustainable design standards to make products last longer and have longer guarantees;
• Cut packaging by forcing retailers and manufacturers to accept products and packaging back from customers once they have come to the end of their useful life – starting with carrier bags and mobile phones.
• Use the government’s purchasing power to expand the market for green, sustainable products and technology.
• Set a target for 40% of UK electricity to come from “clean” sources by 2020, rising to 100% by 2050, and also establishing a “renewables routemap” to 2050.
• Implement a higher feed-in tariff than under current government plans
• Set up a UK Infrastructure Bank to provide capital guarantees and equity to infrastructure projects such as new rail services and green energy.
• Abolish the IPC and return decision-making to the local level, including third party right of appeal where planning decisions go against locally agreed plans.
• A scrappage scheme for buses costing £140 million.

Plaid Cymru and SNP

For a summary of Plaid Cymru’s waste policy, please click here. For the Scottish National Party’s green manifesto policies, which do not cover waste, click here.