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Waste strategy unlikely to meet targets claim experts

LANDFILL TAX will have to be ploughed directly into recycling schemes if Government waste reduction targets are to be met, critics said this week.

According to major industry players, unless the current funding arrangements for developing alternative waste strategies are overhauled, the targets will not be met.

The views were expressed in response to the Government's draft National Waste Strategy. Respondents included the Institute for Wastes Management, Friends of the Earth, the County Surveyors' Society, campaigning body Waste Watch and environmental consultant Ecologika.

The draft strategy sets out plans to see 30% of municipal waste recycled by 2010, as required by the European Union Landfill Directive. If recycling, composting and waste to energy are included, the strategy proposes 45% of waste be diverted from landfill.

But in the absence of a ready market for recycled materials, the cost of setting up a national scheme to deal with inorganic waste would be 'massive', according to CSS waste strategy expert and Hampshire County Council head of management resources Rob Lisney.

He added that although the cost of landfill has increased by about 750% since 1993, establishing recycling depots and state of the art incinerators to deal with non recyclable materials is prohibitively expensive and requires subsidy.

His view was echoed by Ecologika partner Professor Robin Murray, who urged the Treasury to pump funds raised through existing landfill tax into alternative waste management.

He said that recycling is widely regarded as commercially viable in the long term. European experience had shown that demand for recyclables grew to meet supply within an average of three years.

Government cash to kick start initiatives is seen as the only way to meet the target. Waste Watch executive director Ray Georgeson added: 'If we couldn't make significant inroads with half of the Treasury's £370M net annual revenue from landfill tax, we'd be failing badly.'

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