Councils face the challenge of delivering services to an ever-expectant public while waste businesses similarly need to meet customer needs and ensure a level of profit.
All this day-to-day activity takes place against the huge backdrop of change which is coming down the line. From permitting regime changes, digital waste tracking, consistency in collections, the deposit return schemes and reform of extended producer responsibility, the sector faces challenges on a scale never been seen before.
Costs of these changes will be huge. Local authorities to some extent don’t have to worry for now. They are set to receive an income windfall from brand owners towards packaging recycling.
But councils will be caught up in an overall switch to a more sustainable approach to waste management with a future move away from energy from waste.
Some of the larger waste management companies are already travelling down the route of finding solutions which are higher up the waste hierarchy but as yet there is little sign that the current waste treatments routes will change soon from the recycling rate of around 44%, energy from waste around 46% and landfill at 8%.
This percentage structure will have to change over time. Existing plans (such as consistency and EPR) will drive recycling, yet many more legislative and sustainability measures will be needed for a radical treatment and waste prevention shift which is being devised by Defra.
Details of the department’s latest aspirations came at the end of April 2022 when it published its evidence base and impact assessment for a for a 50% reduction in residual waste by 2042.
Defra explains that it is proposing a staged reduction in residual waste arisings of 50% by 2042, an ambition which was announced on 16 March The residual waste reduction target come out of a commitment in the Environment Act 2021 to set binding targets across various policy areas.
For a longer read, visit the waste and resource documents on the Department’s consultation pages, HERE