13 October 2017 by Will Date

Government targets zero ‘avoidable’ waste by 2050

The government has outlined its ambition to see no ‘avoidable’ waste produced in the UK by 2050, alongside a commitment to phase out food waste being sent to landfill by 2030.

These are among a number of new policy proposals set out in the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, published this week (12 October), which outlines measures aimed at cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change “while driving economic growth”.

Food waste at the Agrivert facility

Government will seek to divert all food waste from landfill by 2030 – through supporting separate food waste collections

Overarching policies within the plan, which has been led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) include cutting greenhouse gases from Britain’s built environment, improving energy productivity among businesses and the extension of heat networks.

On the waste front, as well as the policies mentioned above, the strategy reiterates the government’s commitment to a new Resources and Waste Strategy in 2018 alongside exploration of “new and innovative ways” to manage emissions from landfill.


The pledge for zero avoidable waste by 2050 will centre on “maximising the value we extract from our resources, and minimising the negative environmental and carbon impacts associated with their extraction, use and disposal,” the strategy suggests.

Further detail states that this will involve “eliminating all waste where it is technologically, environmentally and economically practicable to do so and working to support innovation in new materials, products and processes that extend the range of materials covered by this categorisation.”

The strategy also suggests a focus on “incentivising” producers to manage resources more efficiently through producer responsibility
schemes, and using Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to drive ‘greater resource efficiency’.

Measures look likely to focus largely on food and organic wastes, underpinned by a commitment to see no food waste entering landfill by 2030. “Many local authorities have introduced separate collection of food waste and we will work to support more so that the amount of food waste sent to landfill continues to decline,” the strategy notes.

Michael Gove, Environment Secretary

This reaffirms comments made by the resource minister Therese Coffey, suggested to delegates at the LARAC local authority recycling officers’ conference in Nottingham yesterday, who said that the government could offer support to local authorities to deliver weekly food waste collections (see letsrecycle.com story).


Commenting on the proposals, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “We are determined to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it, and achieving clean growth is an integral part of our work to deliver a Green Brexit.

“Through our ambitious plans to tackle waste, better manage our precious natural resources and create a more environmentally-focused agricultural system, this government is taking the lead in creating a cleaner, greener Britain.”

The proposals have been welcomed by the chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, Dr Colin Church, who said: “In this strategy, we have the clearest indication yet of the Government’s future policy on resources and waste and the articulation of a positive vision to become a zero avoidable waste economy by 2050. Proposals to eliminate food waste to landfill by 2030, incentivise more resource efficient products and processes through extended producer responsibility, and use data to mobilise sustainable local economic development and innovation through LEPs, are all potential game-changers.”

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