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Revise targets or risk failure

The UK will fail to meet landfill diversion targets because its waste strategy does not set targets for reducing residual waste to landfill.

According to a report by Dr David Davies and published by the Resource Recovery Forum, the UK needed to reconsider waste strategies otherwise there was a strong likelihood of failing to meet statutory landfill diversion targets.

High diversion is it achievable? is a comparative study of top recycling countries in Europe and North America.

Davies said: Waste strategies in the UK tend to place greatest emphasis on meeting aspirational recycling/composting targets. In doing so they adopt a top-down approach to the waste hierarchy that places insufficient emphasis on the single most important legislative measure that should be driving the strategy, namely Landfill Directive targets.

As a result, the tonnage of residual waste to landfill is not driven by the strategy, increasing the likelihood of failing to meet the statutory landfill diversion targets. It would seem better to approach the problem the other way round, as Flanders does, setting explicit targets for progressive reduction in residual waste to landfill.

While Davies believed that the UKs recycling performance was improving, he was concerned that we are giving insufficient consideration to the need for coherent strategies for residual waste. The infrastructure needed is simply not going to be in place in time to meet the Landfill Directive targets.

The report also found that:

l Realistic diversion levels through recycling and composting differed widely according to the nature of the area being served

l Countries and regions that have been most successful in achieving high diversion rates have well-balanced integrated strategies, with incineration playing a strategic role in residual waste management

l One of the most successful strategies for driving high levels of diversion was to set clear targets for achieving progressive reductions

Results found that high recycling figures could successfully work alongside energy recovery. Davies said: There is little evidence that incineration is crowding out recycling. On the contrary, what is happening is that incineration is crowding out landfill and replacing it as a means of residual waste treatment.

The report will be launched in London on June 24.

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