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Waste review

Recycling bins

As part of the Government’s commitment to ensure that we are on the path towards a ‘zero waste’ economy, we have reviewed all aspects of waste policy and delivery in England. The Review’s findings were published in June 2011, alongside a series of actions for the future.  These includes commitments to:

  • Work with business on a range of measures to prevent waste occurring wherever possible, ahead of developing a full Waste Prevention Programme by December 2013;
  • Explore the potential for new voluntary responsibility deals to drive waste prevention and recycling, including in the hospitality sector and with the waste management industry and for direct mail, textiles, and construction waste;
  • Launch a grant funding scheme for innovative reward and recognition schemes which could incentivise people to do the right thing;
  • Encourage councils to sign new Recycling and Waste Services Commitments, setting out the principles they will follow in delivering waste services to households and businesses.
  • Provide technical support to councils and businesses who want to see recycling-on-the-go schemes grow,
  • Consult on the case for increased recovery targets for packaging waste, in time for  a final decision in the 2012 Budget;
  • Consult on introducing a restriction on the landfilling of wood waste and review the case for introducing landfill restrictions on other materials, including textiles and biodegradable waste;
  • Scrap unfair bin fines and taxes while bringing in powers to deal with repeat fly-tipping offenders and genuine nuisance neighbours;

Progress with delivery of commitments

On 27 March 2012 we published a progress report:

Good progress has been made since the Review was published in June 2011 with 90 per cent of actions either completed or on track. We’ve extended the timetable for a few actions, to improve prospective outcomes or because of prioritisation of resources in Defra or our partners.

The actions we have already taken will make it easier for businesses to do the right thing, reducing waste and recycling more. We are working with local authorities to develop stronger partnerships across the country, and bring in changes to help households waste less and save money, for example through changes to food date labelling and the direct mail agreement. In our waste prevention programme we are focusing on how to design or reuse items to prevent the need to either recycle items or send them to landfill.

We’ll be working closely with industry and local communities over the coming months and years to make sure these measures deliver the right outcomes for households, businesses, councils and the waste industry, and for the environment, helping us move towards our vision of a zero waste economy.

Review documents

A new Anaerobic Digestion strategy and action plan was also published alongside the review in July 2011. This will enable a thriving industry to grow in England over the next few years, delivering new green jobs as well as new green energy.

Key actions in the Government’s Anaerobic Digestion (AD) strategy and action plan include guidance on the cost and benefits of AD to developers and local authorities, evidence on the value of digestates, developing skills and training for AD operators, and highlighting ‘best practice’ projects that deliver community benefits.

The following material was also published alongside the Review:


We have also prepared a series of factsheets which set out the key points of what we plan to do and how it will affect:


In conducting this Review, the Government engaged widely with both key stakeholders and the wider public. A Call for Evidence ran between July and October 2010, supporting by an on-line survey and a discussion hosted on Defra’s website between July and September 2010. Ministers and officials met with a wide range of stakeholders to seek their views.

Page last modified: 27 March 2012