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Friends of the Earth urged Michael Meacher, minister for the environment, to make 'the peoples' choices' of environ...
Friends of the Earth urged Michael Meacher, minister for the environment, to make 'the peoples' choices' of environment and jobs the number one priority in the statutory waste strategy.

The government announcement, made in an answer to a parliamentary question yesterday, will mean that the current strategy (prepared by the last government) should be substantially improved, given that the Labour party described the targets in it as 'modest in the extreme'. FOE is expecting the government to produce a strategy with targets that are at least as tough as those set out in their policy document 'In Trust for Tomorrow'. The pledges include:

- setting a national waste reduction target

- reducing all waste going to landfill by 30 per cent over a five year period

- requiring a minimum content of recycling materials in packaging and introducing measures to reduce packaging waste by, for example, targets for the total amount of packaging waste per capita

FOE will be campaigning for tougher targets based on what is necessary to ensure that environmental limits are not breached and that the UK does not consume more than its fair share of resources or release more than its fair share of pollution. FOE will be calling for:

- a statutory target for recycling and composting 40 per cent of household waste by 2005, with an aspirational target of 80 per cent recycling/composting

- legislation to force the uptake of cleaner technologies, increase the recycability of waste streams, and increase the uptake of recycled materials

- a moratorium on building more incinerators and an acceptance that in practice incineration has no role to play in a sustainable waste management strategy

- a strategy that puts the jobs and the environment first, with help for the UK waste industry to respond to the challenge (The DTI recently said that because of lack of training and innovation the industry may not be able to respond to increased environmental awareness and new legislation)

Mike Childs, senior waste campaigner at Friends of the Earth said:

'New Labour have an opportunity to ensure that we can meet the challenges of the next millennium by putting in place a radical and achievable new waste strategy. A strategy that recognises that we need to live within environmental limits; a strategy to help ensure that the UK only consumes its fair share of resources and only releases its fair share of pollution; and a strategy for, as Tony Blair put it, the peoples' choices, environment and jobs.'

The strategy will also be influenced by a new landfill Directive which will set targets for the diversion of waste from landfill. Previously the UK were opposing the inclusion of targets but following pressure from FOE and others it has finally agreed to them, although over a much longer period. It remains to be seen whether the European Parliament's environment committee, which meets to discuss the issue on 21 January, will accept the longer time-frame to meet the targets or whether they willdemand that the targets are met earlier.

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