Defra has said it is certain of the UK meeting its 2020 landfill target and has rejected criticism of its statistical analysis of likely waste trends.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We are confident that our landfill target will be met and our recent analysis supports this.
“It takes into account the risks posed by changes in waste trends and infrastructure and shows that we are continuing to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and that household recycling rates in England are increasing.”
The department’s response follows criticism from the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT), representing senior local authority officials, that Defra’s waste trend data was out of date and did not reflect the likely consequences of the economic downturn.
These worries are supported by the Environment Services Association, whose economist Jacob Hayler, said: “The reduced availability of finance post-2008, along with the usual vagaries of the planning system, are combining to make it very difficult to deliver the new infrastructure we need.
“It is still too early to say how waste arisings will change as the UK economy returns to growth but the large uncertainties, combined with the 30 million tonnes of material which still goes to landfill, suggest that the targets may be more challenging to achieve than Defra has believed.”