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Local waste growth outpaces recycling bid - Chris Davies

August 19, 2004 12:00 AM

Chris Davies MEP (North West Region)The North West's mountain of untreated waste is still growing faster than the efforts of local councils to boost recycling, a local Euro-MP has claimed.

Government figures released last week boasted that across Britain more than 14% of household rubbish is now being recycled, but they also revealed that North West local authorities are amongst the country's worst performers.

The Government's waste strategy 2000 set a target of recycling or composting a quarter of household waste by 2005, but most North West councils are not set to meet this level.

Chris Davies says that the North West's annual waste mountain has grown by 870,000 tonnes over the past 7 years while the quantity being recycled has grown by just 389,000 tonnes.

The MEP, who is Liberal Democrat environment spokesman in the European Parliament, says Britain is lagging near the bottom of the recycling league compared to other EU countries.

He said: "Austria recycles two thirds of its waste and Belgium over half. The Government needs to grab the bull by the horns and insist that local authorities here move into the fast lane before we find ourselves in breach of EU laws which Britain helped to make.

Mr Davies has repeated his call for landfill taxes to rise with the money returned to local councils to pay for enhanced recycling schemes.

The average amount of waste produced by households across Britain each week has risen by over 2kg in the last 7 years and it is now almost 24 kg, the same weight as 24 bags of sugar.

But families in the North West produce more rubbish than those of any other region, with almost 27 kg of waste being thrown out each week by every household.

The Government blames the increase on a number of changes including a greater number of smaller households and more people taking part in gardening and DIY. The increased prevalence of packaging and junk mail are also held responsible.

EU legislation including the Landfill Directive and Packaging Waste Directive are forcing the Government to step up its recycling efforts but Mr Davies believes that more European initiatives will be needed before Britain makes attempts to tackle the problem at source.

He said: "We should be following the lead of countries like Denmark and Sweden which are taking steps to reduce the amount of waste they generate. Sadly I think our record of taking environmental initiatives is so poor that we shall have to wait for officials in Brussels to draw up some minimum standards before we see any action to cut waste."