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EIC urges government to raise landfill tax

LANDFILL TAX must be raised and new waste disposal taxes introduced to encourage recycling and waste minimisation, says the Environmental Industry Commission.

The EIC, which represents the UK's environmental services industry, was commenting on a review of waste management strategy by the Cabinet Office performance and innovation unit (PIU). The unit is due to produce its report next month.

Revenue from taxes on landfill and other forms of disposal such as incineration should be used for strategies to help meet waste targets, such as developing markets for recycled products, said EIC director Merlin Hyman.

'Without radical change the UK is at grave risk of not meeting the legally binding European targets aimed at moving the UK away from its reliance on landfill, ' he warned.

EU Landfill Directive targets require the UK to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill to 75% of 1995 levels by 2010. The PIU review is also looking at ways of developing more sustainable waste management.

EIC members pinpoint co-ordination and funding as two issues that the review must tackle.

'EIC has recommended that a single body be established to have overall responsibility for delivering initiatives under the waste strategy, ' Hyman said.

'This which would provide strong leadership and co-ordinate all sources of public funding.' Many initiatives aiming to promote the development of 'recovered material markets' needed to be better co-ordinated, he said.

'Existing levels of funding to the waste management and resource reprocessing sector are clearly inadequate to support the sustained business development required to deliver the UK's European obligations - particularly the Landfill Directive biodegradable municipal waste diversion targets and the Packaging Directive targets.' He warned that the complexity and cost of waste management would increase with tightening of the Packaging Directive targets and the introduction of obligations on specific waste such as WEEE (the European Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and ELV (the European Directive on disposal of End of Life Vehicles).

The financial burden would fall on firms involved in the product handling chain, including local authorities.

'The funding gap is particularly acute for recycling, ' he said.

'The profitability of existing markets for recovered materials is extremely variable. Until this is resolved, the development of successful markets will continue to require intervention, if the UK's European obligations are to be met. Markets for the use of recovered materials require kick-starting on a local, regional and national basis.' Hyman said EIC hoped the PIU report would deliver 'a real stepchange' in the way the UK managed its waste. 'This is a key opportunity to co-ordinate waste management and boost waste minimisation.'

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