Waste Review

This week, the Government published its comprehensive review of waste which aims to create a zero-waste economy in Britain.

Too much waste is sent to environmentally damaging landfill sites instead of being recycled or converted into energy. 

We still landfill nearly half of the country's waste and this is immensely damaging for the environment.  Landfill sites produce methane which is twenty times more harmful than carbon dioxide.

Here in West Sussex, we have firsthand experience of the blight that landfill sites bring to our landscape and local communities.  The residents of Small Dole have suffered for years from the smell of rotting rubbish at Horton tip, and despite local objection its period of licence was extended.

Fortunately, after strong local campaigns, plans to dump waste at Rock Common, Washington, and Laybrook Brickworks near Thakeham were dropped.    

The new waste strategy sets out a clear way to reducing our dependence on this damaging form of disposal.

I welcome its focus on incentivising people and businesses to do the right thing rather than penalising them for getting it wrong.  I also strongly support the scrapping of bin fines and taxes.

Before the General Election, I visited Windsor & Maidenhead Council to see their trial of the ‘Recyclebank' scheme, which rewards people for recycling by giving them points that can be exchanged for vouchers at local shops.

This has proved to be a great success and has now been extended to Halton in Cheshire and Lambeth in London.

Local authorities should develop solutions that work for their area.  In our county, Mid Sussex and Chichester councils collect recyclable rubbish one week and household waste the next, while Arun and Horsham collect household waste weekly and recyclables every fortnight.

In the past we saw waste as a problem, but it is potentially a valuable resource.  Last year, I visited Crouchlands Farm near Kirdford and saw how green energy can be produced through anaerobic digestion.  The plant can generate enough electricity to power 600-700 houses.

There's no need to bury even more rotting rubbish in the countryside.  If we incentivise recycling and capture the value of waste in new materials and energy, Britain can have a greener future.

Christopher N Howarth