New Report Warns that England Risks Missing Recycling Targets

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A new Report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra) warns that the Government must act now to increase recycling rates in England, and that failure to take action could result in missing the 2020 recycling targets.

The Report also calls on the Government to ensure that only genuinely residual waste is sent to energy from waste (EfW) facilities and to do more to encourage the use of heat outputs from such facilities to improve the overall energy efficiency of EfW as a waste management method.  

The Report, ‘Waste Management in England’, was issued following an inquiry triggered by Defra’s recent decision to withdraw from some areas of waste management.  Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) have been challenged over their decision to step back from developing or implementing any new policies around waste and recycling.  Efra believe that this decision could jeopardise England’s progress towards achieving the 50% by 2020 EU recycling targets.

The Efra Committee says it recognises the benefits of valuing waste as a resource and calls for sustainable waste and resource management to play a key role in achieving Defra’s Coalition priority to improve the environment.  It also urges Defra to take national responsibility for achieving the ‘highest possible recycling rates’ and calls for clearer guidance in how much waste treatment capacity is needed in England to gain an optimal balance between local treatment and the export of RDF (refuse derived fuel).

The Committee also warns that more work is needed to address the issues surrounding separate food waste collections and also recommends implementing a ban on sending any recyclable material to landfill by 2025.

There are wide concerns that England could fall short of the 50% recycling target, especially if Defra and local authorities continue to focus less on waste and recycling policy.  Recycling rates in England are currently reported at around 43%, but recent data shows there has not been much improvement in performance for several years.  It has also been suggested that England should look to the policy being developed in Wales, where recycling rates have already risen above 50%. 

The full Efra Report can be viewed here

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