ZWNW Response to the DoE Consultaiton on the NI Waste Prevention Programme

Zero Waste NW are asking supporters to submit a response (based on the text below) to the DoE (Department for the Environment NI) consultation on the NI Waste Prevention Plan.  (The draft plan can be read in full DoE website, via that link.)  The consultation closes December 11th.

ZWNW Response to the NI Waste Prevention Programme

The Draft NI Waste Prevention Programme must be seen in the context of the overall NI Waste Management Strategy –Delivering Resource Efficiency. In an open letter presented by hand to Minister for the Environment Mark H Durkan on the 7th Nov 2013, Zero Waste NW requested that he postpone publication of the Waste Management Strategy to allow for community participation in developing zero waste strategies. (see our Open Letter to the Minister)

Zero Waste NW supports the aim of the Waste Prevention Programme ‘to maintain the downward trend in waste arisings in NI, and in particular to decouple economic growth from the environmental impacts associated with waste generation’. However, while ZWNW recognise the excellent work of WRAP in supporting local authorities, businesses and the construction sector to ‘rethink waste’, we are concerned that the proposals in the draft plan will remain token, and possibly meaningless, unless the following actions are taken:

  1.  Target figures are set for reducing, reusing and recycling across all areas – Household Activity; Commercial and Industrial Activity; Construction and Demolition Activity and Re-use Activity. At the very least there needs to be a commitment to matching the target figures for waste prevention which will be set by the European Commission at the end of 2014.
  2. Legislation is set in place requiring the business sector to take waste prevention measures in line with zero waste principles rather than relying on voluntary agreements.
  3. A clear strategy is outlined for ‘decoupling economic growth from the environmental impacts associated with waste generation’. This is essential. Without strong safeguards, the workings of the market economy will ensure that perceived ‘economic benefit’ overrides real concerns for the environment, for human health and indeed, human rights.  Zero Waste NW are concerned that the conditions are already in place for a European market in waste going to ‘energy for waste’ plants. [This was documented earlier this year by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives]
  4. The DoE  ensures that there is no place for ‘energy from waste’ in a meaningful waste prevention plan. ‘Energy from waste’ is at the bottom of the Waste Framework Directive hierarchy (EU 2008).   A £500million,  25 year contract for a plant treating 120,000 tonnes of waste a year (as proposed by NW Region Waste Management Group) would create a market for waste and undermine all the aims of the Waste Prevention Plan. [Again documented by GAIA]

Zero Waste NW are a group of individuals giving our time voluntarily to research successful worldwide models in zero waste practice. We are very willing to meet with the Minister for the Environment and with other officials from the Department of the Environment to discuss the low-scale, flexible ways in which communities are taking charge of our own resource recovery, creating jobs and ensuring a healthy environment for our children.

Zero Waste NW
November 2013