1 Introduction |
1. About 177 million tonnes of waste is thrown away
every year in England.
In 2012/13, about 22.6 million tonnes of this total volume was
household waste, amounting to 423 kilograms of waste per person.
This equates to an average person throwing away five times their
body weight in waste each year.
Discarding so much waste is a poor use of resources and has detrimental
economic and environmental impacts. Green Alliance told us that
household waste "is probably a ninth of the total availability
of resources we could get back in this country".
2. The aim of the Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs (Defra) is to move towards a 'zero waste economy':
a society where resources are fully valued, financially and environmentally.
However, in November 2013, Dan Rogerson MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State for water, forestry, rural affairs and resource management,
wrote to interested parties to inform them of reductions in Defra's
activities in waste management following a re-prioritisation of
Government work to make the best use of public funding.
3. Consequently, from April 2014, Defra has "stepped
back in areas where businesses are better placed to act and there
is no clear market failure."
Defra has not given a definitive list of these areas, but the
announcement indicated that the Department will decrease or withdraw
its support for proactive energy-from-waste policy development;
programmes of work on anaerobic digestion and food waste; and
generic support for local authorities in relation to waste contracts
and related areas.
4. This inquiry was triggered by Defra's "stepping
back" announcement in order to examine existing approaches
to recycling and treatment of municipal waste in England, and
to assess the impact that the reduction of Defra's activities
in municipal waste management could have. Written submissions
and transcripts of five oral evidence sessions are published on
our website. We are
grateful to all who provided evidence.
1 Gov.uk, Reducing and managing waste, 2 July
Defra, Statistics on waste managed by local authorities in England in 2012/13,
7 November 2013 Back
The average adult weight in the UK is 75.8kg, based on data from
the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, published
in the journal BMC Public Health. Back
Q101 [Julie Hill] Back
Defra [WME 0072] Annex A Back
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Waste Management in England inquiry page Back