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Closed petition Create new recycling and reuse requirements for local authorities

COP26 climate goals can only be met if we tackle consumer waste and consumption. The Government should create new requirements for local authorities to follow the waste hierarchy, and reduce landfill use, to reduce carbon emissions and waste.

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The Government must bring forward its pledge to reduce landfill use to a max 10% of municipal waste by 2035 and mandate Reuse and Recycle. They need to be more ambitious with their target and act now to mandate that councils use the waste hierarchy. The waste hierarchy promotes the following steps in this order: Prevention, Reuse, Recycling, Other Recovery, and Disposal.

Second hand, the circular economy and reuse should form a larger part of the national - and international - net zero strategy.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 31 December 2021

Through the Environment Act 2021, the Government has strengthened legislative requirements to increase recycling rates to 65%, with less than 10% of municipal waste ending up in landfill, by 2035.

Read the response in full

The Government recognises the importance of tackling consumer waste. We set out in our Resources and Waste Strategy (2018) that we are committed to moving towards a more circular economy. That means we will continue to prioritise measures to prevent waste occurring in the first place, but where waste does occur, we should be maximising its resource value and minimising its environmental impact.

We consulted on a new Waste Prevention Programme between March and June 2021 which builds on the Resources and Waste Strategy and seeks to establish a programme which helps with our strategic goals including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving net zero, as well as increasing our resource productivity and minimising waste. Subject to the results of that consultation, it will propose action across seven key sectors – construction; textiles; furniture; electrical and electronics products; road vehicles; packaging, plastics and single-use items; and food – to minimise waste and work towards a more resource efficient economy. This includes steps to use resources more efficiently, design and manufacture products for optimum life and repair and reuse more items. We expect to publish our revised Programme following the consultation shortly.

All local authorities and waste operators are already required, under the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 on the transfer of waste, to collect, treat and dispose of waste in accordance with the waste hierarchy, which prioritises waste management options. This requires the prevention of waste in the first place (such as reuse or reduction of materials), and where this is not possible, preparing items for reuse. If neither prevention nor preparing for re-use is possible, then recycling is the next best option, followed by energy recovery (such as energy from waste). Disposal without energy recovery, such as landfill, is regarded as the worst option. Subject to some limited exceptions, regulation 13 requires the separate collection of waste paper, metal, plastic and glass and regulation 14 requires that separately collected waste is not mixed with other material with different properties. Following this, in 2020 we introduced a ban on sending waste paper, metal, plastic and glass that is separately collected for recycling or preparing for re-use to landfill or incineration.

When waste cannot be prevented or reused, the waste hierarchy states that it should be recycled where possible. The Environment Act 2021 inserts new requirements into the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for all local authorities in England to make arrangements for a core set of materials (paper and card; glass; metal; plastic; food waste; and garden waste) to be collected separately for recycling from households. These include requirements on businesses and non-domestic premises, such as schools and hospitals, to present the same waste streams for separate collection, except garden waste, and arrange for their separate collection.

We recently consulted on measures to increase the consistency in recycling in line with the new provisions in the Environmental Protection Act. This will ensure that there is more recycled material in the products we buy, and that the UK recycling industry grows. Whilst we want to introduce consistency in recycling as quickly as possible, we recognise local authorities and businesses will need time to adapt to the changes. We expect to publish a full Government response to our consultation in early 2022 and intend to consult further on statutory guidance in 2022.

These measures will constitute a significant step towards meeting our 25 Year Environment Plan commitment to eliminate avoidable waste by 2050 and contribute towards meeting recycling targets, including our commitment of 65% of municipal (household-like) waste to be recycled by 2035, with no more than 10% ending up in landfill.

We have already seen the impact of the landfill tax on the percentage of waste sent to landfill. In England, 8.5% of local authority managed waste went to landfill in 2019/20. By continuing to incentivise the diversion of waste away from landfill to be managed further up the waste hierarchy through the Landfill Tax, the Government is making strong progress towards the goal of no more than 10% of municipal waste to landfill by 2035.

The planned introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) will also help incentivise recycling of plastic and metal. More details will be communicated in the Government responses to the public consultations for EPR and DRS which were held in 2021. These responses will be published in early 2022.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs