Resources Minister Rory Stewart opened the first day of the Resourcing the Future 2015 Conference in London, with the message that the UK needs to engage with the European Commission with a “unified voice”.
Addressing delegates at the joint conference between CIWM, ESA and the Resources Association, Stewart said that the devolved UK governments must work together to ensure the European Commission’s circular economy package 2.0 meets the UK’s particular needs.
He said it was important to make sure that whatever the Commission comes up with “is right for the UK.”
To make sure this happens, Stewart said that government would have to listen to the resources and waste industry.
Rory Stewart MP – “Trying to rush out with targets that I don’t think we can meet gets us in trouble”
“So we’re going to have to listen very closely to you,” he said, “to make sure that you look very closely at those proposals out of the Commission for a circular economy, to make sure they meet our particular conditions and your particular businesses.”
The European Commission axed its first package earlier this year, in favour of what it described as “more ambitious” proposals.
In his speech to delegates at the conference, Stewart also touched upon recycling targets and landfill bans.
He said in response to an audience question: “Trying to rush out with targets that I don’t think we can meet gets us in trouble. I think ‘good’, though, effectively means being better than other countries. I want to benchmark myself initially on that. I want to look at the best global practices.”
With regards to whether Defra was looking into implementing an organics ban to landfill, Stewart said: “The question of organics going into landfill is a big issue.
“We’ve been doing a lot on food waste recently. As you know the British government is very committed to trying to reinforce the food waste hierarchy… to make sure it goes to humans then to animals and that is certainly isn’t going to end up in landfill.
“How exactly we do this is something, whether we do this through legislation or through measure we do now, is something I have consult on. We don’t want a large proportion of organics going into landfill.”
A recent CIWM Journal Online opinion poll revealed that the majority of respondents believed the UK governments should follow the example of French and implement a ban on supermarkets disposing of surplus food in landfill.