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UK well placed to lead Europe with waste prevention policy

News that the UK is equal to the rest of Europe in waste prevention policy and could even lead the way has elicited smiles from the industry. The findings come from a report commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to look at ways to increase waste prevention and go beyond recycling. It had international authors so claims of UK bias are not applicable. Guided by the National Resource and Waste Forum (NRWF), the stakeholder led research, Household Waste Prevention Policy Side research [ITALS] looked into waste prevention policy across Europe and assessed future policy options. Results were assessed and compiled by a group of industry experts, policy makers from UK Governments and independent non Governmental Organisations. Organisations from the whole supply chain were involved as well as researchers from Holland, Germany and Switzerland. While identifying potential areas of policy to reduce waste, the report found UK policies were not vastly different to other countries. [UK] waste prevention policy is not weaker; there are simply differences in implementation, regulation and cultural factors. The organisation which assembled the research, The Environment Council said that some of the policies it assessed could even help the UK become a waste prevention leader in Europe. Environment Council project co-ordinator Claire Mellier explained: Stakeholders were supportive of the research, as they were part of it from the beginning. Initially we thought we would find more innovation in other countries but there were not that many initiatives in other countries so it was a surprise in that sense. So that is why we said that Defra could take the lead in preventing waste if it wants. Key suggestions from the report to improve UK waste prevention include: * A combination of policies to prevent junk mail, for example, a campaign to increase opt-out schemes, greater use of suppression lists and legally binding no thanks junk mail stickers for letter boxes; * Altering the packaging producer responsibility legislation to achieve its potential impact with increased awareness and enforcement resources for Trading Standards; * Potential eco-labelling and extended warranty schemes to reduce waste; * Improved Government co-ordination and strategic focus on delivery and implementation of policies. Unsurprisingly those involved with the waste sector were pleased with the outcome, as the UK is not renowned on the continent for its waste policies. Commenting on the findings a Defra spokeswoman said: If you can get waste prevention right a lot of other things follow. Defra commissions a wide range of research to inform policies and this report has a useful contribution to make. There is a new unit within Defra called the Products and Materials Unit which focuses on resource efficiency which is waste prevention by another name. So it remains a high priority for the Government. The EA also welcomed the findings as did Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (Larac). Its spokeswoman Joy Blizzard said: Were often compared negatively to the rest of Europe, so its pleasing to see the UK doing well. Although the results have only just been released, the project was completed before the Waste Strategy from England, Wales and Scotland. So, some of the ideas were included in it. But the authors say there is still more work to be done. For example the Direct Marketing Association is working with BSI British Standards to create an environmental standard to reduce the impact of the whole direct marketing industry. Environmental Services Association (ESA) chief executive Dirk Hazell commented: "ESAsupports a number ofthe measures cited, for example extended producer responsibility, and we would alsosupport councils being empowered to apply the polluter pays principle to householders. However,the importantrole for waste prevention must not distract attention from theUK's overwhelming need formassive investment in infrastructure to build the Recycling Society." So while the UK could lead Europe in waste prevention it seems it still has a lot to do overall. Future policy options for UK 1.Implementation Plans for Waste Prevention 2. Inclusion of Home Composting in Local Authority targets 3. Waste Prevention Targets and Residual Waste Levy 4. Low Waste Schools / Charging for Schools Waste 5. Junk Mail Policies 6. Mandatory Use of Rechargeable Batteries 7. Deepening Producer Responsibility 8. Collaborative Procurement between Local Authorities 9. Minimum Standards for Appliances 10. Stimulating Re-use of Durable Goods 11. Extended Product Warranties Prevention policy areas to focus on Areas of potential for prevention policy 1.Increasing the cost of wastefulness is products 2. Producer responsibility 3. Sustainable procurement 4. Minimum product standards 5. Consumer market stimulation or repression 6. education 7. Housing planning and design 8. Limiting or charging for household waste collection 9. Home and community composting 10. Waste prevention targets Responsibility is specified in each policy area for: Policy introduction Policy implementation Policy regulation

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