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DEFRA publish resources and waste strategy for England

19 December 2018

On Tuesday 18 December, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Michael Gove published the Government's Resources and Waste Strategy for England at Veolia's SELCHP. The strategy sets out how the Government intends to preserve material resources by minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a circular economy.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove said:

Our strategy sets out how we will go further and faster, to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Together we can move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society, to one that looks at waste as a valuable resource.

We will cut our reliance on single-use plastics, end confusion over household recycling, tackle the problem of packaging by making polluters pay, and end the economic, environmental and moral scandal that is food waste. 

Through this plan we will cement our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, leaving our environment in a better state than we inherited it.

This strategy sets out Defra and The Environment Agency are planning to double resource productivity and eliminate avoidable waste of all kinds (including plastic waste) by 2050.

The strategy sets out the intention to:

  • preserve the stock of material resources by minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a circular economy
  • minimise the damage caused to our natural environment by reducing and managing waste safely and carefully
  • deal with waste crime

It combines actions now with commitments for the coming years and gives a clear longer-term policy direction in line with our 25 Year Environment Plan.

The intention is to prolong the lives of the materials and goods, in order to move society away from the inefficient ‘linear’ economic model of ‘take, make, use, throw’.

A more circular economy (re-use, remanufacture, repair, recycle) will see us keeping resources in use for as long as possible. It will allow us to extract maximum value from them, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of their lifespan.

On Combined Heat and Power and Heat Networks

The paper states that while England has 40 EfW plants, only eight operate in Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Mode. As part of their strategy, they:

want to help the companies that run EfW plants to use the heat produced to improve their efficiency, and to help industry make the right decisions over infrastructure investment. Work is underway across Government to make the remaining plants more efficient, by assessing and removing barriers to making use of heat produced when incinerating waste.

They also make reference to the HNIP fund aligning and utilising EfW plants as a source fo heat networks where possible. Further, Defra intend to work with the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Locla Government (MHCLG), so that in future, plants are constructed near customer heat demand. 

Speaking at Veolia Southwark’s Integrated Waste Management Facility in London, Richard Kirkman, Veolia’s Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, said:

The government has listened to industry and these steps have the clear potential to dramatically change the way the sector operates to increase recycling and recovery rates.  

With consistent collections and advanced facilities like this at Southwark more recyclable materials can be collected for reprocessing into new products. As a business we are ready to invest, to take advantage of new technology, build more infrastructure and work with brand owners and local authorities to harness resources on an industrial scale.

It’s the direction we have been hoping and waiting for, and with the public and businesses playing their part the UK can build a sustainable future.

Read more about the strategy here.

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