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New metrics point at progress in waste reduction

In the last 12 years the UK has made some progress in reducing waste, new metrics developed by Defra have indicated.

The indicators, a development that was pledged in the Waste Prevention Plan in 2013, have been included in a compendium of available waste and resource statistics.

These are:

  • raw material consumption per unit of GDP
  • waste arisings by sector (construction and demolition, commerce, industry, household)
  • hazardous waste arisings by sector
  • waste arising per unit of gross value added for the commercial and industrial sector
  • greenhouse gas emissions from landfill
  • gross value added of the repair and reuse sector

In terms of raw materials consumption, data from the Office for National Statistics suggested that since 2000 the UK was able to increase economic growth using fewer resources.

“This suggested that there has been some decoupling of resource use and income generation across the economy,” said Defra.

Overall, there was also a decrease in waste arisings across sectors, with household waste declining from 22.1 million tonnes in 2010 to 21.6 tonnes in 2013.

Another improvement was visible in the statistics on methane emissions from landfill, which almost halved between 2000 and 2012.

Waste arisings per pound of gross value added in the construction, demolition and excavation sectors remained stable, and the volume of hazardous waste increased slightly.

Alongside the waste prevention metrics, the compendium includes a wide range of data on the industry, such as local authority collected waste, packaging, export and food waste.

The figures been compiled using historical statistics from Defra, WRAP, the Environment Agency, the Office for National Statistics and Eurostat.

Defra said: “Waste and resource are subjects for which there is a wealth of published data. It can therefore sometimes be challenging to readily find the data of interest.

“The aim of this digest is to help by bringing together a wide range of key statistics on waste and resource into one publication.”

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