The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published its first progress report on the Resources and Waste Strategy, providing a baseline for measuring performance and progress against the aims of the strategy.
The report covers greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste and recycling, landfilling and waste crime, with statistics covering the period 2010-18. Defra will use the measurements to track outcomes and improvements in the area of resources and waste, and to communicate any progress.
A dramatic reduction in GHG emissions from England’s waste sector over the past 30 years is noted in the report, with the diversion of methane and a move away from landfilling as the largest contributors.
It also highlights an increase in the waste produced in the UK, with construction waste going up by 20.8%, and commercial & industrial waste by 16%. While household waste remained approximately level, 8% more was recycled, composted or reused between 2010 and 2018.
The study acknowledges the restrictions of using weight-based metrics on items such as plastic, which have little impact on the weight-based recycling rate but have a large environmental footprint. The report commits to using alternative metrics in the future, such as GHG emissions and impacts on natural capital and social value.
With progress hampered by Brexit and Covid-19, criticism has been levied at the report for being backwards-looking. One round of consultations has been completed since the Resources and Waste Strategy launched in 2018, with the second round estimated to take place in early 2021.