Increase in landfill tax could worsen fly-tipping

March 29, 2007 at 7:43 am

The Countryside Alliance has criticised Gordon Brown’s
recent increase in landfill tax, warning that it will herald epidemic levels of illegal rubbish dumping, otherwise known as ‘fly-tipping’.

The latest budget sees the standard rate of landfill tax go up from £21 per tonne to £24 per tonne. The Government has also announced an annual increase of £8 per tonne from 1st April 2008 until at least 2010-2011.

A special investigation by the Countryside Alliance found that nearly 2.5 million incidents of illegal rubbish dumping were reported to local authorities and the Environment Agency between May 2005 and April 2006. The cost of clearing up this waste is estimated at £100 million. The report marks the start of a national campaign against fly-tipping, which is seen as environmentally damaging, unsightly, hazardous to the public and expensive for the taxpayer.

Though presented by the Government as a move towards better waste management and higher levels of recycling, the increase in landfill tax raises the cost of rubbish disposal and could risk making fly-tipping more appealing.

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First ever UK recycling plant to turn used plastic bottles back Into food packaging

March 20, 2007 at 1:35 pm

A £12 million funding agreement was signed on the 5th March which announced the arrival of the first UK plant to recycle plastics back into food packaging. The plant, due to open in December of this year, will be located in Dagenham and operated by Closed Loop London (CLL). The new facilities at Dagenham will ensure that 35,000 tonnes of packaging which would previously have been exported for recycling or sent to landfill will instead be converted into packaging material here in the UK. Millions of water, soft drinks and cosmetics bottles are made of Polyethylene terephtalate, or PET, which will soon be recycled into food packaging at the site at Dagenham.

Managing director of CLL Chris Dow said recently: “The development of this facility is the realisation of a three year vision… We are delighted to be able to bring to the food packaging manufacturers a commercially viable and environmentally responsible option when specifying packaging.” Previously, tonnes of plastics were exported to suitable recycling plants abroad, alternatively they were incinerated or sent to landfill. The new plant marks a huge step forward for recycling in the UK, and has attracted private equity funding from Foresight Venture Partners, a banking facility from Allied Irish Bank (GB), and is also supported by public sector funding from the London Development Agency (LDA) and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme).

One of the key motivations behind the plant at Dagenham is the improvement of UK recycling facilities in response to mounting concerns about climate change and global warming. This growing sensitivity to climate change and the acknowledged need for more efficient recycling in the UK has spurred individuals to praise the plans for the new facilities. Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, stated that the announcement is “a big leap forward for recycling in the capital and will boost our fight against climate change.” The plans also respond to growing public demand for ‘greener’ waste disposal practises, as Jennie Price, Chief Executive of WRAP points out: “There is a real public demand for plastics recycling, and a strong desire to see that recycling happening close to home.” The new plant at Dagenham seems to indicate a positive attitude shared by both public and private sectors that efficient recycling is a necessity, marking a promising step forward in the battle against climate change.

Marks & Spencer has been the first to commit to sending plastic waste to the plant from its stores in London, and is encouraging suppliers to source the recycled PET for M&S packaging from the site. Stuart Rose, the Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer said recently “We will be able to send our own plastic waste to the plant for recycling and use even more recycled plastic in M&S packaging.” It is hoped that more major retailers will follow the example made by Marks & Spencer in committing their plastic waste to UK recycling.

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UK retailers sign agreement to reduce environmental impact of carrier bags by 25% by the end of 2008

March 15, 2007 at 1:24 am

Around 13 billion carrier bags are used by shoppers in the UK every year. Though they are made from around 70% less plastic than they were 20 years ago, most carrier bags are still made of polyethylene, which is non-degradable. This means that as well as using up non-renewable energy in their production, plastic bags can take hundreds of years break down. They can also cause direct damage to wildlife and are one of the worst offenders for spoiling beaches and parks.

Widespread concern surrounding the environmental impact of plastic bags has finally brought the UK retail sector together in a joint effort to tackle the issue. Over 20 retailers, including big names ASDA, Boots, Debenhams, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Primark have signed an agreement with the government and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

The agreement proposes a 25% reduction in the overall environmental impact of carrier bags by the end of 2008. This is to be achieved through three main routes:

1) Reducing the environmental impact of each carrier bag.
2) Encouraging customers to significantly reduce the number of carrier bags they use.
3) Enabling the recycling of more carrier bags where appropriate.

These measures build on existing ‘bag for life’ schemes, which have seen retailers developing and using alternative materials and trialling bigger bags that carry more shopping.

If the 25% reduction target is achieved, carbon dioxide emissions will be cut by up to 58,500 tonnes a year; the equivalent of taking 18,000 cars off the road for a year.

Though widely accepted as a step in the right direction, other countries have gone even further in the battle against the carrier bag. The Irish Republic has levied a 15 cent (10p) charge on plastic bags since 2002, which is claimed to have reduced usage by 90%. A similar tax has been proposed in Scotland. Australia’s government intends to completely phase out lightweight plastic carrier bags by the end of 2008.

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