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Waste Prevention: MRW View - Waste Prevention Obligation

In March, the Government finally published its call for evidence for the Waste Prevention Programme, promised in the 2011 Waste Review. It ends on 29 April. The consultation documents underlined the opportunities of moving up the waste hierarchy - a shift in strategy that has been on the cards since the 1970s. Most convincingly, Defra figures showed that waste prevention could be worth around £17bn to UK businesses.

But it also highlighted the challenges faced by waste prevention, including market failures when the real costs of products, including disposal, are not realised; lack of initial financing or staffing; and a lack of will among consumers.

A recent report from the Chartered Institute of Water and Environment Management (CIWEM) said it was not only Defra that should be addressing waste prevention, but a number of Government departments. It added that because 90% of UKbusinesses are Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises, they may not have the same ability to promote resource efficiency throughout their supply chain as larger corporations.

But EU member states have an obligation to put in place a waste prevention strategy by December this year. Waste prevention is coming to the UK, despite the potential difficulties in implementing plans.

MRW asked “How can we best overcome the challenges to waste prevention?” in a bid to get an insight before publication of the programme. We also added a dissenting voice from elsewhere on the internet: the Rubbish Economics blogger does not agree with Defra’s assessment of so-called ‘market failures’.

Christine Ottery, news editor, MRW

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