Greens rubbish waste plan

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The Independent Online
Green groups last night condemned the Government's new masterplan for tackling waste as feeble and half-hearted, writes Nicholas Schoon.

The Department of the Environment's long-awaited waste strategy, published yesterday on 150 pages of recycled paper, was portrayed by ministers as their most serious attempt yet to confront the throwaway society. Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace said they were deeply disappointed that the targets set were so vague and undemanding, with no promise to make them legally binding.

For the first time, the Government intends to stabilise household waste at today's level - roughly one tonne per household in a year, although no accurate average exists. No target date for achieving this stabilisation has, however, been set. Household rubbish output has been rising for decades because of an increase in consumption of goods and the packaging.

The proportion of waste going to landfill dumps must be reduced by a tenth over the next 10 years, says the strategy, published as a consultation document.

Such tips now account for threequarters of the solid waste being disposed of each year.

The Government also wants three in every four local councils to "actively promote" composting by the year 2000. This means householders will either allow waste vegetables and food scraps to rot in gardens, or separate them out from the rest of rubbish for councils to compost."It sounds very sandals and London NW1," said environment minister Robert Atkins. "But composting makes very good sense."

The strategy also repeats existing targets - for a quarter of garbage to be recycled and nearly 60 per cent of packaging waste to be recycled, re-used or burnt in electricity-generating incinerators by 2000.

The Government also says that by the millennium there should be "close to home" recycling facilities for 8 out of 10 households. - collection banks for bottles, cans, paper and plastic a short walk from homes or the collection of "recyclables" from the doorstep.