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Defra must raise its game on prevention

What Defra has just published is another consultation document, rather than a draft of the waste prevention programme, so all is still to play for.

What Defra has just published is another consultation document, rather than a draft of the waste prevention programme, so all is still to play for.

But ESA would expect the final version of the England Waste Prevention Programme to be a much crisper and more focused action plan on how to achieve real waste prevention.

Defra is right to say that the actions are not solely or mainly for Government – its true that businesses, local authorities, charities and the voluntary sector, and above all consumers themselves, can and should all contribute to cutting back waste. And some action can best be taken at EU rather than national level – notably on eco-design.

But the current Defra document doesn’t follow through on the identification of key sectors and waste materials to specify the actions that are needed to prevent waste in those sectors and materials.

And the role of Government remains very important, even if its not the whole story. Here the signs are not good: while Defra talks up WRAP’s role in waste prevention, it is making huge cuts in WRAP’s budget, and while it singles out construction as a key sector, Defra is repealing the regulations requiring Site Waste Management Plans.

So Defra will need to up its game considerably to turn this consultation paper into a credible waste prevention programme for England by December. As a start, Defra could do worse than take a closer look at the recent ESA report Green Growth: a practical route to a circular economy to get some specific ideas about how all players in the value chain can work together to make a difference.

Roy Hathaway, ESA policy adviser

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