Press release

Plans for a zero waste economy launched

Helping people to do the right thing by reducing waste and increase recycling at home, on the move or as part of their business.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Plans to help people to do the right thing by reducing waste and increase recycling at home, on the move or as part of their business have been unveiled today as the Government announced the results of its comprehensive review of waste.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Waste Management (CIWM) conference, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:

“People want to do the right thing by reducing waste and recycling at home or out and about and we want to help them. This means making sure communities are getting the collection services they want and not penalising hard-working households who make minor mistakes by putting bins out on the wrong day or leaving a plastic tub in the wrong recycling box.

“For too long, we’ve lagged behind the rest of Europe, although we are catching up fast. Communities and businesses can help us become a first-class zero-waste economy and unlock the real value in the goods that people no longer want.”

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

“It’s time to consign the failed policies of unfair bin taxes, bin fines and bin cuts to the dustbin of history.  Families pay £120 a month in council tax. Both Whitehall and the town hall need to raise their game to deliver more frequent and better rubbish and recycling collections in return.”

The Government’s waste review sets out the following priorities:

  • Consult next year on introducing a landfill restriction on wood waste, review the case for introducing landfill bans on other materials, such as metals, textiles and all biodegradable waste.  The Government will work with industry to drive innovation in reuse and recycling in these products before the start of any bans;
  • Accelerate recycling and reducing waste creation in the first place by providing incentives for householders, recycling-on-the-go schemes, better services for businesses and voluntary responsibility deals focussing on the hospitality industry, paper, direct mail, textiles, and construction waste;
  • Scrap unfair bin fines and taxes while bringing in powers to deal with repeat fly-tipping offenders and genuine nuisance neighbours;
  • Crack down on illegal fly-tippers who persistently and recklessly pollute the environment and countryside.  We will introduce appropriate powers to seize vehicles, and look at penalties that might include offenders clearing up items they have dumped; and
  • Consult on increased recycling targets to 2017 for plastic, steel, aluminium and glass.  Targets will be consulted on and agreed in time for the 2012 Budget;

Driving innovation in the £11 billion waste and recycling sector, which employs up to 150,000 people, is expected to push growth by three to four percent over the next few years.

Waste going to landfill has nearly halved since 2000, with household recycling rates now at 40 per cent and business rates at more than 50 per cent. But more needs to be done, which is why the Government will publish a follow-up zero-waste action plan on waste prevention in December 2013, to check progress and address further developments under any new EU regulation.

The Anaerobic Digestion strategy and action plan has also been published today, which 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. However, neither the AD strategy nor the waste Review dictates to local authorities the best method of organic waste collections. It is up to councils to decide if they wish to run a separate collection scheme for organic waste.

AD offers a local, environmentally sound option for waste management which helps us divert waste from landfill, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce renewable energy which could be used to power our homes and vehicles.  Farmers and gardeners can also benefit from the fertiliser produced, returning valuable nutrients to the land.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said:

“Letting rubbish and waste rot in landfill is madness when we can use it to power our homes and cars. We are already making it financially attractive to turn waste into electricity under the Feed-in Tariffs scheme and soon there’ll be similar incentives to generate heat too. The Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and Action Plan will help us unlock the potential to get more energy from waste to reduce emissions in the fight against climate change.”


The Government Review of Waste Policies in England 2011 is available here:

The Government’s AD strategy is available here:

The Government announced a comprehensive review of all waste policy and a Call for Evidence last year to look at what policies are needed to reduce the amount of waste generated and to maximise reuse and recycling, while also considering how waste policies affect local communities, individual households and businesses.  More than 300 submissions were received.

The Coalition Agreement committed the Government to “work towards a zero waste economy and encourage councils to pay people to recycle and reduce littering” and “measures to promote a huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion”.

Defra’s Structural Reform Plan sets out an action to “set the path towards a ‘zero waste’ economy through review of waste policies”.

This is a review of waste policies in England.  Defra will lead the review working closely with other departments, devolved administrations, local government and businesses, and engaging widely with interested parties.

Updates to this page

Published 14 June 2011