Pathway To Zero Waste aims to create a culture of resource efficiency and help businesses reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill, reduce associated costs and create jobs.
An estimated 80 per cent of waste in the south east is generated from businesses and PTZW wants to see less of this sent to landfill through reduction, reuse, recycling and waste to energy.
South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) chairman Jim Braithwaite told those at the launch: Domestic waste is not the problem. Industrial waste and commercial waste - that is the problem. If we can turn waste into a resource we estimate it would be worth about £2,000 to every business.
SEEDA, along with the Environment Agency and the Waste & Resources Action Programme is a founding partner of PTZW. The idea is for PTZW to be able to tap into the expertise of these three partners, in addition to its other six partners, and to open doors and broker deals to achieve its resource efficiency aims.
PTZW director Chindarat Taylor (pictured) said: The economic benefits we will unlock are considerable an estimated £370m reduction in operating costs by 2011 alone.
The £8 million programme has funding for three years and will initially focus on construction waste, followed by food waste and wood waste. Targets for food and wood waste have yet to be set but it wants to halve the amount of construction waste going to landfill in the region by 2011 against 2008 levels.
Taylor said the programme will be results focused and will be regional but have national significance. We are about taking action not just talking, she said.
PTZW has received support from Environment secretary Hilary Benn and aggregates levy sustainability funding. Benn said: Other regions will be watching what you are doing in the south east with real interest.