A new era of resource focused waste management policy

waste management policy
© Sorranop Khanonvech |

The Government’s resources and waste strategy provides a clear framework for long-awaited resource and waste management policy in the UK, and particularly England. 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the sector

With a series of consultations inviting debate on areas ranging from eco-design and preserving natural capital, to improving consumer awareness, influencing buying habits and increasing the responsibilities of producers and distributors, 2019 will see a new era of resource focused waste management. Central Government has largely relied on EU-derived legislation to provide the basis for its waste management policies, whereas the devolved nations have developed their own. The Strategy provides an opportunity to unify many environmental policies across the UK.

Victoria Hutchin, Associate Waste & Resource Management Consultant at WYG

Waste prevention underpins the Strategy, framed around five key objectives: making all packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025, removing all food waste to landfill by 2030, eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042, doubling resource productivity by 2050, and eliminating avoidable waste by 2050. The collective aim is to move towards an encouraging circular economy and bring about the end of the linear ‘buy, consume, throw away’ ethos.

The Strategy also addresses waste crime. Through proposals to increase powers for local authorities and the Environment Agency – as well as other potential measures, such as electronic data recording and changes to permit exemptions – the Government aims to prevent waste crime and give the enforcing bodies appropriate powers to deter crime. Duty of Care in relation to responsibilities for the appropriate management and disposal of waste has attracted Government funding in recent years, and January 2019 brings new Fixed Penalty Notices for householders disposing of waste via unregistered operators.

It brings some much-awaited good news to local authority waste and recycling officers by acknowledging the fundamental role they play in supporting delivery of policy ambitions contained within. We work closely with local authorities to review, design, and procure frontline waste and recycling services, and what has become increasingly apparent is the pressure on budgets that often starkly contrasts with the need to continually improve.

We are delighted to see that it is addressing this head-on with the acknowledgement that appropriate resources at local authorities will be needed to meet the new net costs arising from the policies, both in terms of initial set-up investment and ongoing costs. With separate food waste collections, consistent kerbside materials, kerbside battery collections, and rethinking commercial waste and free garden waste collections potentially on the horizon, there could be some big positive changes ahead for local authority services.

The Strategy provides the framework for reinvigorating the sector, challenging the status quo and creating the shift we need to an informed, accountable, and sustainable resources-focused economy. The rise of the environmentally conscious consumer gives the UK a golden opportunity to capitalise on public interest, continuing to build buy-in for policy change and create the behavioural changes these will necessitate.



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