The survey will involve almost every size and type of company across England and Wales. The survey will provide information on the quantities and types of waste produced by industry and commerce and how they are dealt with. The information will be used to develop the government’s national waste strategy.

Over the next six months, it is intended that more than 20,000 firms will be asked for detailed information, via either a visit by an Agency officer or by telephone, on what sorts and quantities of waste they generate and the disposal route they follow.

The Agency hopes the information will give industry and commerce a better understanding of good waste management, and will provide a benchmark from which companies can assess their environmental performance relative to others in the sector.

Regional and local waste strategies will also draw on the information generated by the survey, while the waste management industry will use it to decide on future investment options. Individual businesses will be offered advice on their waste management policies.

The Agency’s Director of Environmental Protection, Dr Paul Leinster, promised to minimise disruption to companies which take part and that specific information on individual businesses will remain confidential.

The data made public will be aggregated so as to present a picture of waste trends in, for example, geographical regions or industry sectors.

A pilot survey was carried out last year among 2,700 businesses to help the Agency develop its methods for carrying out this full survey. The exercise was also used to gauge the attitude of companies to the environment: 60% had never carried out any waste reduction; 70% thought that minimising waste would not increase their competitiveness, and 90% were not involved in any waste minimisation.

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