Government off track to meet waste reduction targets

Jacob Hayler, Executive Director at ESA has remarked that the Government is off track to meet its waste reduction target of near halving the amount of general waste produced per person by 2042. This follows a recently published report by Defra on residual waste in England.

Furthermore, there is little evidence that the interim goal of a 29% waste reduction will be achieved by 2028. Between 2021 and 2022, household waste reduced by less than 1%.

The RDF Industry Group believes that waste to Europe exports should be encouraged to alleviate pressure on UK facilities. Sending waste for efficient recovery in Europe allows the UK time to reduce waste arisings without the need for additional waste infrastructure, which would become redundant in a low waste future.

In fact, waste exports should be encouraged across the whole of Europe, to encourage landfill diversion and keep in line with the waste hierarchy principals. This practice fully supported by the European Commission in its communication on Waste-to-Energy and the circular economy.   

Studies have shown that exporting waste for energy recovery, and keeping it out of landfill, even over distances up to 9,000 km, help to avoid climate change. For every tonne of waste that is landfilled in the UK instead of being sent for efficient incineration for electricity and heat in Dutch facilities, an additional 261kg CO2e is emitted.

The RDF Industry Group believes that all available EfW capacity in Europe must be utilised to avoid landfilling and reduce overall GHG emissions. EfW capacity in countries with national ‘overcapacity’ must not be reduced, but used by countries with insufficient EfW capacity, until all combustible waste is diverted from landfill across Europe.

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