The government needs to step up efforts to reduce waste from business, according to a parliamentary committee.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee recommends using variable VAT rates to cut unsustainable consumption of raw materials.

Its report says pressure has so far concentrated on householders, who account for only 9% of the UK's waste.

Environment minister Joan Ruddock said the government does have measures that are inducing businesses to cut waste.

Those measures include the landfill tax escalator under which the tax on landfill will rise by £8 per tonne each year until 2011.

The committee acknowledged that this had been effective in reducing the amount of waste dumped in landfill sites, but said other initiatives were needed.

"We would like to see the VAT regime reformed so that products that have a long life-cycle, or can be easily and cheaply repaired rather than replaced, are made economically more attractive," said Lord O'Neill, who chaired the sub-committee on waste.

"This would be an important step in turning away from the 'throwaway' consumer culture we currently have."

'Disappointing' cuts

About one-third of the UK's waste is produced by construction and demolition, and a further third by mining and quarrying.

Nevertheless, the committee says, government action and media attention have concentrated on the much smaller contribution from households.

Councils too should change focus, it recommends, to prioritise reducing waste from businesses.

Some business leaders interviewed by the committee said each company should be made responsible for the waste associated with its own products, a recommendation that the committee endorsed.

Lord O'Neill said this would ensure that "manufacturers who behave irresponsibly face financial consequences and those who are doing the right thing are supported."

Another recommendation is that the government should ring-fence a proportion of revenue raised from the landfill tax for agencies charged with reducing business waste.

Envirowise and the Waste and the Resources Action Programme (Wrap) are among the agencies whose budgets are being cut - a move about which the committee expresses "extreme disappointment".

The committee also refers to an issue often expressed by environmentalists - that the advice that people receive in the UK focuses too much on recycling, and not enough on reducing consumption.

The argument is that policies should aim first at reducing what people use, then encourage re-use, and only then stimulate recycling.

"If our society was to implement the hierarchy effectively, a far smaller amount of waste would need to be disposed of after all the previous stages had been put into practice," the committee concludes.

step up 增加;加快
parliamentary 議會的,國會的 議會制定(或頒佈)的
committee 委員會
recommends推薦,介紹 建議,勸告

unsustainable 無法支撐的;無法維持的
householders住戶,居住者 戶主,家長
報帳 解釋,說明;對...負責  導致,產生
measures 措施;手段;方法
landfill 垃圾填埋;垃圾填埋地
escalator 按生活指數作出調整的條款 自動樓梯,電扶梯
initiatives 主動的行動;倡議  首創精神;進取心  主動權
regime 政體;政權;統治  社會制度
reformed 改革過的
replaced把...放回 取代;以...代替
repaired 修理;修補 補救;糾正

chaired 主持(會議);任(會議的)主席  使就任要職
sub-committee   小組委員會
consumer 消費者;消耗者 
quarrying石場;露天礦場 從採石場採得 
Councils 會議;政務會;協調會 議事,商討
prioritise 【英】=prioritize    按優先順序處理  給予...優先權
associated 聯合的;組合的;關聯的
endorsed在(駕駛執照背面)註上違章事項   在(發票、票據等)背面簽名,背書;簽署(姓名)    贊同;認可
ensure 保證;擔保
manufacturers 製造業者,廠商,廠主;製造公司
behave 表現,行為舉止
irresponsibly 不負責任地;不可靠地
financial 財政的;金融的;金融界的
ring-fence 圍柵;圍垣
proportion 比例;比率   調和;均衡,相稱  部分,份兒
revenue 歲入;稅收  收入,收益
agencies 代辦處,經銷處,代理機構  動力,作用  仲介;代理
charged索價;對...索費;課(稅) 控告,指控  指責;譴責
extreme 極端的,極度的;最大的 急進的;激烈的;狂熱的;偏激的
refers 把...歸因(於),認為...起源  論及,談到,提及
receive 收到,接到  得到,受到,遭受  接待,歡迎;接受,接納;承認
. 消耗;用盡  消費
aim 把...瞄準;把...對準擲向  將...針對;以...用於
stimulate 刺激;激勵;使興奮;促使
implement  履行;實施;執行
hierarchy 等級制度  統治集團
disposed 處置,處理;整理  使傾向於,使有意於
previous 先的,前的,以前的

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