The European Waste Framework Directive requirement to consider the ‘waste hierarchy' comes into force today. Many companies are already doing this voluntarily as part of best practice and lean manufacturing. Today we have published a report looking at the opportunities and barriers for manufacturers ascending the waste hierarchy.
Waste prevention and recycling is commonly done by manufacturers and has now reached a mature stage and is embedded within company operations. Data show that between 2002 and 2009 the amount of waste produced by manufacturing fell by 23% whilst the amount sent to landfill fell by 43%. In fact we think that much more waste prevention and re-use happens than is recorded in government waste statistics.
It makes good economic sense for businesses to use their resources wisely and efficiently so that less waste is produced. However other research indicates £23billion of resource efficiencies that could be achieved. We have researched the opportunities to reduce waste and believe that manufacturers still face significant structural and regulatory barriers. And whilst we welcomed the government's Waste Review and Action Plan in June 2011, many of the actions have yet to be developed into tangible commitments of support or finance.
We need to see changes to regulation particularly to help define when waste ceases to be a waste to enable it to be re-used and guidance on achieving the best options under the waste hierarchy. The guidance on the waste hierarchy for hazardous waste is not even published yet. Awareness of the requirements and options is low, yet government has done little to promote this.
We also need improved access to affordable and convenient waste management infrastructure. Government promised to help businesses gain access to local authority run recycling facilities. This is important particularly where collection of recoverable wastes is uneconomic for private waste companies
If government fail to address these issues, the new requirement might be only more red tape heaped upon industry.
We urge government to shake-up this stagnant area of policy.
Also read The Environmentalist's take on the Waste Hierarchy http://www.environmentalistonline.com/article/2011-09-29/what-rubbish.