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UK GOVERNMENT AIMS TO HALVE WASTE TO LANDFILL OR INCINERATION BY 2042


The UK Government yesterday (16 March) announced new, long-term environmental targets, including halving the amount of waste going to landfill or incineration by 2042.

It is proposed that the target will be measured as a reduction from 2019 levels, which are estimated to be approximately 560kg per capita. The target excludes ‘major mineral wastes’, described by the Government as ‘largely inert waste categories from construction and demolition, and excavation and mining activities’. The exclusion of this category, the Government states, will ensure that attention is paid to waste ‘where the environmental impact is greatest, and where our evidence is strongest’.

The Government asserts that the target will ensure that a ‘holistic view’ of waste is taken, avoiding potentially ‘perversely incentivising material substitution with potentially worse environmental impacts through material-specific targets’. The 25 Year Environment Plan contains separate commitments to eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

The target is set to be measured at the end-point of waste management, including the treatments that are typically associated with mixed residual waste – covering waste sent to landfill and put through incineration, sent overseas for energy recovery, or used in energy recovery for transport fuel.

In its consultation document, the Government states that it will ‘continue to review’ which treatments are appropriate to include as new technologies and treatment options emerge. Environment Agency data on permitted waste site activities and international waste shipments will be used to report on the metric, ‘recognising that there is limited data availability at the point waste is collected’. The proposed targets come as part of the Government’s Environment Act, which passed into law in November last year, and will be subject to an eight-week consultation process. The Government’s response is expected to be published in early summer 2022.

Environment Secretary, George Eustice said: “These proposed targets are intended to set a clear, long-term plan for nature’s recovery. In a post EU era, we now have the freedom to move towards a system that focuses on nature’s recovery as well as its preservation, and which places more emphasis on science and less emphasis on legal process. This change in approach will help us in the pursuit of the targets we are setting under the Environment Act.”

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