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Meacher warns on municipal waste recycling

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER Michael Meacher has written to over 100 local authorities warning them that they must dramatically increase municipal waste recycling.

A quarter of UK local authorities will fail to achieve government recycling targets unless they dramatically step up their efforts, Meacher told the Commons environment food and rural affairs select committee last week.

The government wants councils to recycle 17% of municipal waste by the end of this year and 25% by the end of 2005.

Meacher's letter is understood to demand explanations from 112 authorities about why they are failing to meet the target. It also asks what they intend to do to rectify the situation.

The letter summons council officials to a seminar early next month. Meacher plans to use this to thrash out any problems they have.

The government is spending £140M subsidising capital costs of setting up recycling schemes.

These costs include purchase of special bins, collection vehicles and publicity and waste sorting depots.

But councils said the funds were too small. Local Government Association head of waste policy Gavin Wilson said they do not cover the costs of renegotiating waste collection and disposal contracts with private sector contractors.

Many local authorities are locked into long term arrangements with collection firms which are not equipped to recycle. They also have long term arrangements with landfill contractors, said Wilson.

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