Defra praises England’s waste reduction progress

A range of waste management policies including the landfill tax escalator has helped England to make significant progress in managing its waste since 2007, according to Defra.

Defra made the announcement in its recently published Waste Management Plan for England. In his ministerial forward, Resource Minister Dan Rogerson said that England had made “impressive progress” in terms of the waste generated and managed since 2007. 

Recycling and composting of household waste has increased to 43% and business rates have increased to 52%. In 1997/8, only 7% of household waste was recycled in England.

According to Defra, this progress has been driven by a range of policies. Defra said that the landfill tax escalator has created a strong incentive to divert waste from landfill. Additional funding for local authorities, including through the private finance initiative, has led to the development of new waste treatment facilities.

National planning policy seeks to enable local authorities to put planning strategies in place through their local plans which shape the type of waste facilities in their areas and where they should go. All of these measures are helping to drive waste to be managed further up the waste hierarchy, according to Defra.

Rogerson went on to say that much had been done “but much remains to be done if we are to prevent and manage waste to support the growth of our economy and to continue to protect our environment”.

He also said that more joint working was needed. He said: “We already see many local authorities co-operating to save money and provide better services. There are opportunities too for innovative ways of providing waste services to small and medium-sized enterprises.”

Defra’s Waste Plan does not signal a new direction for waste policy as it is designed to bring together current plans and policies already in place.

The industry has reacted with dismay to the Waste Plan asserting that it is simply a rehousing of existing policies.

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) said the launch of Defra’s Waste Plan was low key.  ESA policy advisor Roy Hathaway said: “As was expected, there is nothing new in the Government’s Waste Management Plan for England. The document is a list of current activities, not a Plan showing how the Government intends to improve resource management in England from where it is now, to where it would like it be in 2020 and beyond.

“To be fair to Defra, they have consistently made clear that this Waste Management Plan would be designed to tick the boxes in the Waste Framework Directive and no more.

 “But the challenges facing the sector – which were spelled out by ESA Chairman David Palmer-Jones last month – will not go away: ensuring recycling reaches 50% by 2020 when it is flatlining; how to stimulate markets for recyclates; what more should be done to stamp out waste crime; and how best to encourage private sector investment in new waste infrastructure.  In short – how to promote the Circular Economy. These things will not happen without government leadership.

“Looking towards 2014, we will continue to work closely with the Government to push the Circular Economy agenda forward.”

Liz Gyekye




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