Minister spells out roadmap to zero waste

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has told local authorities and industry leaders how Government plans to lead the UK towards becoming a zero waste nation.

Speaking at a summit of waste industry professionals and council representatives in London on Tuesday, Mr Benn said we must embrace new technology and change public attitudes to waste, and also hinted at a landfill ban for any materials that could be recycled or composted.

He also announced six Zero Waste Places in Shropshire, Dorchester, Brixton, Newham, Hoxton and Suffolk that will develop innovative ideas to cut waste in the home, workplace and community.

“We need to rethink how we view and treat waste in the UK,” said Mr Benn.

“Why do we send valuable items like aluminium and food waste to landfill when we can turn them into new cans and renewable energy?

“Why use more resources than we need to in manufacturing? We must now work together to build a zero waste nation – where we reduce the resources we use, reuse and recycle all that we can and only landfill things that have absolutely no other use.

“To do this all of us – government, local authorities, businesses and consumers – must do our bit. And we must make this moment the turning point on our journey to eliminate wasteful waste.”

“Using new technologies will help us to re-use things, for example anaerobic digestion that creates energy from food and farm waste.

“And businesses can apply the technology at their fingertips to design innovative products that use less resources or contain recycled materials.

“In ten years time 75% of household waste will either be recycled or used for energy, and over time this figure will increase even further.

“Aiming for zero waste is the way we have to think to get us to where we need to be.”

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government John Denham added: “If we continue to send recyclable or compostable waste to landfill we are missing a major opportunity to generate heat and energy and missing an opportunity to turn that waste into money.

“We can save planet whilst keeping money in resident’s pockets.

“I have recently set out ambitions for councils to play a bigger role in tackling climate change and thinking more creatively about waste is just one way to unlock that potential.”

Other headline announcements from the summit include:

  • The Government expects local authorities to offer a full collection service for all recyclable items by 2020. This should include paper, card, cans, glass and plastic bottles, food and packaging. It will encourage Local Authorities in collecting food waste to make use of the technology and funding available to them to harness the power of energy from waste.
  • A new Zero Waste Places Standard for Local Authorities will recognise areas which are going above and beyond national waste targets while supporting them with small grants for further development.
  • New research shows it is possible to divert 500,000 tonnes of household waste per year through re-using it.
  • A major publicity campaign will encourage people to rethink their approach to waste by reducing and reusing the waste they create as well continuing to recycle as much as they can.
  • Publication of Government aims for Commercial and Industrial Waste in England. This aims to help businesses to use resources more efficiently and encourage them to think about what they do with their waste as well as delivering benefits for the environment.
  • Sam Bond

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