The independent charity Green Alliance, which aims to promote sustainable development, working with senior people from within the Government, business and the environmental movement, has announced that over half of the companies within the UK’s waste sector is to report on environmental performance using a core set of indicators developed by the organisation. The new indicators, launched on 22 November, cover all the major environmental impacts of waste management, including mitigation of methane and other climate change emissions, transport, waste minimisation, neighbourliness, regulatory compliance, water use, land use and wildlife.

Environment Chief Executive Barbara Young praised the initiative, saying that she saw the launch of the indicators as being “key to tackling the UK’s growing waste problem and the public’s antipathy to the issue”. “Overall, we all have to make more effort – using less, giving and using more information, recycling more and buying sensibly,” she said.

“I hope the whole industry will put the environment at the heart of their business,” Young added. “Together with specific targets, these indicators are an effective means of driving improvements in performance and the environment. The indicators will also allow future benchmarking both between and within companies.”

“The commitments made by the 11 companies signed up to the indicators represent a significant step forward in improving the sector’s environmental performance, as well as its transparency,” said Green Alliance Programmes Advisor Julie Hill. “We hope the remaining companies will now sign up.”

“Environmental performance indicators are vital in understanding the performance of any sector, but the framework of policies that companies operate in is equally important,” said Ben Shaw, Senior Policy Officer at Green Alliance. “Our waste work will now be looking at the policies that not only reduce the impact of waste management but also allow business and waste management companies to contribute to improving the UK’s resource productivity.” Green Alliance is looking into how the broader policy framework can improve waste management in the UK, including through fiscal measures such as making it cheaper to recycle than it is to landfill. This would enable waste management companies to move away from less sustainable practices towards offering recycling and waste minimisation services, Shaw told edie.

The 11 companies that have agreed to use the indicators form over half of the sector in terms of turnover. They are: Biffa, Cleanway, Cory Environmental, Durham County Waste Management, Greater Manchester Waste, Grundon, Viridor, Shanks, SITA, Waste Recycling Group, and Waste Tyre Solutions/Automotive Waste Solutions.

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