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Government waste strategy to ‘make the UK a world leader’

The industry has hailed a series of waste and resources policies launched by the Government, including a ban on food waste to landfill by 2030, as “potential game changers”.

The announcements were made in the Clean Growth Strategy, a wide-ranging plan headed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy designed to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions.

It includes a commitment to develop a resources and waste strategy “to make the UK a world leader in terms of competitiveness, resource productivity and resource efficiency”.

The cross-department strategy also said the long-awaited Defra 25-year plan would be published in 2017.

Key initiatives include:

  • Targets of a 20% reduction in food and drink waste arising in the UK, a 20% reduction in the greenhouse gas intensity of food and drink consumed in the UK, and a reduction in impact associated with water use in the supply chain through delivery of the Courtauld Commitment 2025.
  • Work towards no food waste entering landfill by 2030.
  • Ambition for the UK to be zero avoidable waste economy by 2050.
  • Increase recycling, reuse, repair and remanufacturing levels
  • Extend producer responsibility schemes
  • Develop resource efficiency and “industrial symbiosis” with local enterprise partnerships
  • Manage emissions from landfill and research landfill gas capture
  • Support anaerobic digestate used as fertiliser

The strategy also appears to put a question mark over sending waste for incineration. It said the Government would work with the waste sector to “ensure that different waste materials going into energy recovery processes are treated in the best possible way … to maximise their potential as a resource”.

Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “Through our ambitious plans to tackle waste, better manage our precious natural resources and create a more environmentally focused agricultural system, this government is taking the lead in creating a cleaner, greener Britain.”

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management chief executive Colin Church said: “Proposals to eliminate food waste to landfill by 2030, incentivise more resource-efficient products and processes through extended producer responsibility, and use data to mobilise sustainable local economic development and innovation through LEPs are all potential game-changers.

“In addition, the suggestion that materials should be managed in relation to their environmental impact opens the door to smarter targets in the future.”

Environmental Services Association executive director Jacob Hayler said: “The Government’s Clean Growth Strategy rightly recognises the impressive work of the waste and resource industry in helping the UK transition to a low carbon circular economy.

“Emissions from the sector have reduced by 73% since 1990, recycling rates have quadrupled over 15 years, and the equivalent of 2.3 million homes are powered by renewable electricity generated from waste.

“We welcome the Government’s plans to go even further in reducing carbon emissions, and look forward to an ambitious resources and waste strategy with real, tangible measures that will help our members invest in greater resource efficiency and deliver clean economic growth for the UK plc.”

Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association chief executive Charlotte Morton said: “We look forward to BEIS’s new resources and waste strategy, which will need to be supported by meaningful funding and legislation to effect the scale of change needed for an urgent transition to a more circular economy.”

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