The Bill, introduced by Labour MP Joan Ruddock, is now in its third incarnation. Originally entitled the Doorstep Recycling Bill, it would have required a kerbside service to be offered to every household in England and Wales.
After the Government indicated that it would not support the Bill, the clause was dropped in favour of a requirement for the Government to ensure that 50% of municipal waste in the UK was recycled by 2010. It was then rechristened the Municipal Waste Recycling Bill (ENDS Report 338, p 39 ).
The Government has now proposed its own amendments to the Bill, renamed the Household Waste Recycling Bill. These were accepted at Committee stage on 10 June. The Bill is due to proceed to Report stage on 11 July.
In place of the 50% recycling target, the Bill now requires English waste collection authorities to provide kerbside collection schemes to all households covering at least two types of recyclable or compostable waste. This would be done by amending section 45 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which places a duty on local authorities to collect household waste.
Although Ms Ruddock had proposed that four types of recyclable waste should be collected, she claimed not to be disappointed because "any authority that devises a scheme for the collection of two waste streams might just as well collect four."
The collection schemes would have to be in place by the end of 2010 unless an authority obtained permission from the Secretary of State for a later deadline up to 2015. This would be used in "narrow circumstances", said Environment Minister Michael Meacher - for example, "if current systems deliver very good recycling rates without high coverage of doorstep collection."
An authority could be excused from the requirement if the cost of providing the service was "unreasonably high" or "comparable alternative arrangements" were available.
Mr Meacher gave some indication of how these exemptions will be defined. Bring banks might be an acceptable alternative if they were at the base of some tower blocks, for example, but they should "perhaps be rather closer" than 100 metres from a home.
Mr Meacher was unclear if putrescible waste would qualify as one of the two types of separately collected waste. Although home composting should be encouraged, he said, "it would be wrong to export that compost out of the home and then count it as one of the two recyclates." It would also be unacceptable to collect two different colours of glass, or to collect mixed household refuse and separate the materials at a "dirty MRF".
The Bill would also require the Secretary of State to report by October 2004 on the progress made by each authority towards the target, and of the progress of all English authorities towards their statutory Best Value recycling targets for household waste.
As it stands, the Bill applies to authorities in England only, but Welsh authorities will be included if the Welsh Assembly requests.
A requirement for English waste collection and disposal authorities to produce "sustainable waste strategies" has been dropped. This became superfluous after provision for statutory municipal waste strategies in England and Wales was made in the Waste and Emissions Trading Bill (ENDS Report 339, pp 35-36 ). The latter Bill also enables disposal authorities to tell collection authorities how they must deliver their separated waste.