According to the UK Independence Party website UKIP will try to achieve the following if they gain power at the 2010 general election:
14.1 Globally, resources are wasted on a large scale. Products are over-packaged, in non-recyclable materials, with designs that do not facilitate future repair. People often want the ‘latest model’ or an ‘upgrade’ when an existing product is still functioning well: the life of a mobile phone, an inherently durable product, is often now just a few months.
Shops lose heat into the street for fear that a closed door will deter customers, houses are often poorly insulated, and offices have plasma screens and other electronic equipment permanently switched on. Air conditioning too readily replaces natural ventilation.
UKIP would promote a less wasteful culture, greater reuse of products, and the removal of unnecessary regulations that inhibit the sale and reuse of second-hand goods and materials. We need to change tax and regulatory regimes that currently encourage wasteful activity and consumption, particularly in commerce and industry. We also need detailed scrutiny and amendment of the relevant Health and Safety regulations that may discourage such reuse on grounds that are excessively cautious.
14.2 As well as promoting the reduction of waste at source and the reuse of products and materials, we believe that there is scope to enhance domestic recycling using a more flexible system of contractors, while reducing costs and inconvenience to the public.
UKIP would introduce a series of regulatory policies and fiscal incentives to encourage manufacturers and suppliers to adopt or re-adopt recyclable packaging – such as glass, cardboard, tin cans and recyclable plastics – and to reduce the quantity of overall packaging. We propose a ‘litter deposit’ attached to all recyclable packaging which is reclaimable from participating retailers. This will encourage the reduction of littering and provide pocket money for young collectors.
14.3 There is scope for greater use of technology in the handling and salvage of waste.
Plastics and electronic goods are a particular problem for recycling unless so designed. Much of the UK’s waste nominally sent for recycling is scandalously diverted to landfill sites in for instance China and South Africa, where the regulations on disposal are less stringent. Much computer and other ‘e-waste’ currently ends up in China illegally.
However, various mechanical and chemical processes are being developed for recovering valuable and potentially toxic materials from e-waste, including polymers and a wide range of metals.
14.4 Government policies and arbitrary targets, driven in the UK by EU directives, have often led to recycling activities with negative net environmental benefit. Potential fines imposed by EU Courts for missing recycling targets represent a considerable burden on local councils passed on as higher taxes. An example of dubious recycling is the collection of garden waste from houses in the UK, using fleets of lorries. This wasteful routine was introduced by local authorities, with Government encouragement, as a way of artificially boosting recycling figures to avoid EU fines22, and leading to a farcical position where householders composting their own garden waste at home prejudice the local authority’s recycling figures and make EU fines more likely.
In conformity with EU directives we have seen the widespread imposition of ‘alternate weekly collections’ for household waste. This imposes major storage problems on householders and encourages the breeding of vermin. According to the National Pest Technicians Association, the number of brown rats in Britain increased by 35% in 200523.
Linked to the introduction of alternate weekly collections are over-complex requirements for householders to sort waste, and the transporting of waste over long distances, often destined to be remixed where specialised disposal facilities do not exist.
UKIP would immediately review domestic waste disposal in consultation with the local authorities that are responsible for its implementation.
14.5 The present Government has also been working on a scheme of ‘variable household-waste charging’24. We believe that such schemes are unnecessarily complex, will be difficult to control, will encourage fly-tipping, and are motivated in part by a general desire of Government to take more powers and intrude into people’s everyday lives, backed by spy cameras and costly ‘bin police’. UKIP strongly opposes such an approach. Household waste could be collected, sorted and processed using a flexible system of licensed contractors at much less cost to the householder or taxpayer than the current system. A more flexible system would provide costeffective methods for dealing with waste in the most appropriate ways. In some circumstances, householders might even receive payment for their rubbish once sorted appropriately.
14.6 While UKIP says that much more waste can be and should be recycled, we also recognise that recycling itself has an environmental cost, and some waste will be best used to generate heat and power. For other suitable waste, landfill is still the best environmental option, particularly with associated methane recovery and electricity generation. Widespread closure of landfill sites in the UK has been driven by EU policies designed originally for Holland and Belgium.
Suitable landfill sites in the UK are not in short supply, and landfill is only ‘expensive’ because the government imposes taxes to limit its use and thereby avoid EU fines. We already have the technology to extract and utilise methane from landfill. Modern lining techniques, gas monitoring, leachate separation techniques, and on-site leachate treatment, all mean that modern landfill performs much better than in the past.
UKIP believes the UK should aim to be approximately self-sufficient in our capacity to process the waste we produce.
14.7 To reduce waste associated with excessive bureaucracy, we would simplify, amend or abolish regulations that promote wasteful activities in government itself. For example, the Department for Environment, Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), while now almost entirely restricted to implementing policy handed down by the EU, continues to micromanage ever more areas of activity, working directly through its core operations and through its many agencies, other linked bodies, and contractors25. This has led to major bureaucratic incompetence, as in the notorious administration in England of the ‘single farm payment’ scheme which wasted large amounts of money, incurred massive fines from the EU, and caused widespread expense and distress amongst its ‘customers’.
I would be interested to hear both positive and negative views on UK Independence Party’s Waste and Recycling policies in the comments below?