The new Prime Minister Liz Truss will be facing one of the most challenging in-trays of any British PM in history. However, waste industry leaders have called for the new administration to ensure that the commitment to the waste strategy and net zero targets are maintained.
Materials Recycling World reports that there are fears that corners will be cut, in order to tackle the looming recession and squeeze on household budgets. Schemes such as deposit return, to encourage less waste of packaging materials such as glass and plastic, are thought to be in danger because of the increased consumer burden.
There are also fears that the extra responsibilities placed on producers to cut waste and increase sustainability will be relaxed or abandoned altogether, in the face of rising costs which are predicted to cripple some businesses this winter.
Lee Marshall, policy and external affairs director of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), said: “We would like to congratulate Liz Truss on her appointment as prime minister.”
He added: “We would hope that the PM’s time as a former secretary of state for the environment means that she will continue to prioritise the environment and support the recycling and resource management sector in its efforts to help the UK reach its net-zero and circular economy goals.”
“There are several initiatives that require the PM’s immediate attention to ensure valuable time and momentum are not lost. These include the Government’s plans for the ambitious waste collection and packaging reforms agenda.”
The new Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been announced as Ranil Jayawardena, MP for East Hampshire. He was previously Minister for International Trade. He is thought to be in favour of banning single use plastics, and opposed proposals for less frequent recycling collections in his constituency.
Meanwhile, the Former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne has added his voice to the debate on waste and renewable energy. Mr Huhne now chairs the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association, and he has called for the expansion of food waste collections, which can eventually be transformed into biogas and biomethane.
He said: “The only way to reduce dependence on volatile fossil fuels and tackle climate change is to accelerate energy saving and speed up renewables such as wind, solar and biogas.”
He added: “Truss should support the rapid deployment of biogas and biomethane infrastructure by applying the contracts for a difference system “that turbo-charged wind and solar and which would, at present gas prices, lead to a windfall for the Treasury”.
Biogas is created when organic matter, referred to as biomass, is transformed through a process called anaerobic digestion. It is a natural process, and it can occur in ponds, or in artificially engineered digesters. Biomass can come from livestock effluents, landfill sites, wastewater treatment sites, and food and gardening waste.
Mr Huhne claims that home-grown biogas could replace direct Russian gas imports in the UK within four years.
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