Britain needs much more radical solutions to its biggest environmental
problems, according to a report from the Prime Minister's own think tank, the
Performance and Innovation Unit.
The report - to be published soon - will warn that local councils have to
triple the amount of household rubbish they recycle if the UK is to avoid
fines from the EU. The Today Programme has learned that fines could total up
to £half million a day if Britain does not hit its targets under the Landfill
Directive by 2010.
Britain is fast running out of landfill sites, and the PIU calls for more
action to reduce waste from the construction industry which sends 70 millions
tonnes to landfill a year. Thirteen million tonnes consists of material
delivered to building sites then discarded as surplus to requirements.
Waste, the report says, is arguably the biggest problem facing the UK after
climate change. It says the government is on track to reduce emissions of
so-called greenhouse gases by 2010, but warns that emissions are then
projected to rise again. More taxes and incentives will be need alongside a
huge leap in technology if we are to meet the 60% emission cuts recommended
by scientists to stabilise the climate.
The PIU recommends the government to set demanding long-term targets for
industry to stimulate innovation. It says that small and medium sized firms
present a particular challenge. While the industrial giants have appointed
environmental managers to improve their performance, this is impossible for
smaller firms who tend to ignore the potential for cutting pollution or
energy use because management do not have the time to spend on to what appear
to be fringe issues. Collectively, smaller firms waste vast amounts of
resources and energy.
Bosses need to be given more information and more incentives to be green, the
PIU says. It says in the longer term the UK faces potentially uncomfortable
trade-offs between environmental and economic objectives, but raises the
prospect of benefits for businesses and individuals if innovative solutions
can be found.