Waste and recycling
The UK consumes natural resources at an unsustainable rate and contributes unnecessarily to climate change. Each year we generate over 80 million tonnes of waste, which causes environmental damage and costs businesses and consumers money.
The Government has published the findings of its Review of Waste Policy, setting out its policies and a series of actions designed to help move towards a zero waste economy in England. Alongside the Review, the Government also published an Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and Action Plan.
- Launch of Consultation on a draft Hazardous Waste National Policy Statement (14 July 2011)
- New responsibility deal between Government and waste management sector (23 June 2011)
- Government’s Review of Waste Policy (14 June 2011)
- Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and Action Plan (14 June 2011)
We have made some changes to the location of waste and recycling information within our website as part of the processing of migrating more comprehensive information from our old website. We regret any inconvenience as we tidy up the information.
Key facts and figures
- Around 40% of waste from households is currently recycled, as of 2011, compared to 11% in 2000/01.
- The average residual waste per person has reduced by 76kg since 2006/07 to 275kg/person/year
- 52 per cent of commercial and industrial waste was recycled or reused in England in 2009, compared to 42 per cent in 2002/3.
- 55% of municipal waste generated in the UK is sent to landfill, compared to an EU-27 average of 40%.
- According to RecycleNow, UK recycling saves more than 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – equivalent to taking 5 million cars off the road.
- UK produces approximately 7 million (5 in England) tonnes of food waste per year and about 90 million (40-60 in England) tonnes animal slurry and manure that could realistically be available for utilisation by Anaerobic digestion technology.
- In England this could generate at least 3-5 TWh electricity per year by 2020 (a heat equivalent of 6-10TWh)
- The UK water industry treats 66% of sewage sludge by AD, generating in the region of 1TWh per year of electricity in 2010.
- The diversion of biodegradable wastes to AD can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfill. For example, capturing the biogas from one tonne of food waste will save between 0.5 and 1 tonne of CO2 equivalent.
- Direct emissions from the waste management greenhouse gas inventory sector in the UK accounted for 3.2% of the UK’s total estimated emissions of greenhouse gases in 2009, or 17.9 Mt CO2e compared to 59 Mt CO2e in 1990. Of the 2008 total, 89% arises from landfill, 10% from waste-water handling and 2% from waste incineration (these figures are rounded).