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Government Supports Zero Waste Targets

In the Review of Waste Policy in England, published in June 2011, the government outlined plans to “get the most energy out of genuinely residual waste, not to get the most waste into energy recovery”. Recognising waste as a source of renewable energy, the government is looking for solutions to promote sustainable use of our material resources.


Is A Zero Waste Economy Viable?


Under the revised Waste Framework Directive, the EU set ground rules for member states. Enforcing a statutory duty to follow a five step waste hierarchy, the Directive puts emphasis on preventing waste in the first instance.

In England’s Review of Waste Policy, the government supported efficient energy recovery. Delivering environmental benefits, reducing carbon and providing economic opportunities, they pledged to remove barriers to energy from waste technologies in order to work towards Zero Waste.

In the government’s visions of a Zero Waste Economy, they acknowledged that there would be a ‘long-term’ market in waste materials. Highlighting the significant opportunities for growth in:

  • waste collections
  • recycling
  • reprocessing
  • recovery of waste

It is estimated that the UK’s waste and recycling sector will grow by approximately 3-4% a year. Currently valued at £11 billion, these industries are central to the development of a green Zero Waste economy. Traditionally focussed on disposal of waste via landfill, the waste industry is currently undergoing a transition towards greater reuse, recycling and recovery. The 2010 Energy & Utility Skills report forecasts that the waste management and recycling industry will grow by 37% by 2020.

As industry capacity for simple disposal and landfill contract, the government has allowed significant scope for sustainable Zero Waste solutions to grow. There are plans for greater growth opportunities in both the waste management industry and wider supply chain for the collection, sorting and processing of materials such as:

  • Bio-waste
  • Textiles
  • Plastics
  • Glass
  • Paper
  • Metals

Alongside the reviewed waste policy, the government’s own Waste & Resource Action Programme body has taken a step closer to support energy from waste projects. Traditionally promoting recycling, its stated view is now “Making best use of our natural resources is not about a choice between recycling or energy from waste, but about a combination of recycling and energy from waste.”


Make Positive StepsTowards Zero To Landfill


To achieve their long-term vision of a Zero Waste economy, the government has set themselves challenges to achieve. These include the following:

  • Preventing waste where it occurs – this can help reduce the amount of raw materials used for new products, reduce hazardous waste substances and design waste out entirely.
  • Increase the recycling of waste collected – meet the revised Waste Framework Directive target to recycle 50% of waste by 2020.
  • Extract valuable recyclables – ensure the collection of recyclable materials meets the needs of reprocessing plants here and abroad.
  • Deliver on climate and broader environmental needs – establish an interface between energy from waste policies and review energy targets to deliver on Zero Waste goals.
  • Divert waste from landfill – ensure the UK meets the EU Landfill Directive targets for diverting biodegradable waste from landfill in 2013 and 2020.
  • Tackle waste crime – ensure an effective approach to tackling waste crimes, reducing harm to the environment.
  • Support sustainable solutions – work to identify commercially viable routes to help develop a recovery infrastructure.

To achieve your Zero Waste goals, call the experts at Recycling Services on 01952 204471 or email

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