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Business Green: Defra mulls ban on sending wood to landfill


Environment Minister raises prospect of beefed up approach to waste policy, including landfill bans and plastic bag tax

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has revealed it is working on a series of proposals designed to strengthen waste policy in the run-up to the release next year of its new National Waste Management Plan.

Speaking to BusinessGreen, Environment Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach confirmed this week that while the department has to date pursued voluntary agreements with different sectors as a means of curbing waste levels, it is now turning its attention to more stringent regulatory measures.

“Ultimately, one can still see that there is a role for landfill with inert matter – though even then that is almost a form of recovery – but it cannot be justified for any other areas where it has residual energy or raw material value," he said.

He also revealed that the department was still considering the merits of introducing a tax on plastic bags, despite reports the Treasury blocked plans for a bag levy earlier this year.

"I think it would be really irresponsible to rule out anything that could help us deal with the issue," he said, adding that he is meeting members of the Welsh Assembly this week to discuss how the country's bag tax is working.

However, Lord Taylor rejected calls from green groups for the government to follow in the footsteps of the Scottish government and set a target of sending zero waste to landfill.

"The key thing is we don't want to depart on a journey where we are not realistic about our opportunity to get there – though I do agree we can afford to be ambitious," he said.

"We have worked on the idea that we work in partnership with the industry. I don't want to get into a situation where we are lecturing them or putting ourselves in a position where we are demanding more than is achievable."