UK: Waste Strategy For England 2007

Last Updated: 2 August 2007
Article by Julie Vaughan

The Government published on 24th May 2007 its revised 20-year waste strategy. Rather than re-writing the previous strategy in its entirety, the new strategy document includes proposals which build on those set out in 2000.

Nationally, the most controversial innovations are likely to be the consultation launched simultaneously with the new strategy on removing the current ban preventing local authorities from imposing charges on householders for waste collection, additional to Council Tax.

In this bulletin we examine some of the other new directions forming part of the strategy. We consider first the Government’s key objectives and then examine the impact on the waste management industry, drivers for investment in new infrastructure, and the impacts on business.

Key objectives

There is a clear attempt to harness waste policy to the imperatives of green house gas emission reductions and the wider sustainability agenda. The Government expects an annual net reduction of at least 9.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent compared to (2006/07) from management of waste in accordance with its strategy. This is based on forecast increased diversion from landfill of around 25 million tonnes of waste annually.

Main elements of the strategy are:

  • Incentives for waste reduction
  • Greater emphasis on re-use, recycling and energy recovery
  • More effective regulation
  • Targetting action on areas with greatest scope for improving both environmental and economic outcomes
  • Stimulating investment in infrastructure and markets for recovered materials
  • Controlling export for recycling
  • A clearer framework for waste governance
  • Securing engagement in behavioural change

The strategy reaffirms the importance of the waste hierarchy and of reducing reliance on landfill, together with investment in infrastructure for recycling and energy recovery. It focuses on waste prevention and reuse in order to decouple waste growth from economic growth. It also takes first steps to adopt a lifecycle thinking, product-based approach in addition to addressing waste types and sources, and designates 7 priority wastes.

Additionally, it is considering imposing a target of a 50% reduction in the amount of construction and demolition waste going to landfill and the introduction of further restrictions on landfilling biodegradable waste and recyclable materials. The strategy is supported by the 8% year on year rise in landfill tax announced in the 2007 Budget.

In view of the approaching deadline of October 2007 for pre-treatment of all non-hazardous waste going to landfill, the Government has stated its view that the onus for characterisation and pre-treatment of such waste streams should rest increasingly with the producer rather than the landfill operator. Consultation on this aspect is underway.

Energy from waste

The importance of energy from waste projects (and especially combined heat and power) is reaffirmed. The Government is keen to dispel public health fears in connection with incineration and concerns that increased energy from waste will overshadow attempts to increase the amount of recycling. It sees early consultation with stakeholders and flexible waste treatment contracts as key to ensuring the latter does not occur. It appears to be encouraging two separate things:

  1. treatment plants that can carry out recycling as well as produce energy from waste – being flexible as to the proportion of waste directed to each over time; and
  2. contracts with waste providers that do not fix the amounts of waste to be directed to each of these procedures.

As announced in the 2007 Budget, Enhanced Capital Allowances are to be extended to include all the necessary equipment to enable combined heat and power facilities to burn secondary recovered fuel.

New legislation will address current barriers to accreditation by Ofgem for eligible energy from waste plants for the purposes of the Renewables Obligation and to make Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) available for energy generated by co-firing eligible biomass with non-eligible solid recovered fuels. The Energy White Paper also recently released includes proposals for banded ROCs despite concerns voiced when this idea was floated. There appears to be no intention to drop any energy from waste technologies already included in the scheme. Instead levels of support are to be raised for anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis and gasification. It is not yet clear what priority co-firing with solid recovered fuel will be accorded relative to other processes.

Annexed to the strategy is guidance on energy from waste technology intended to inform local authority procurement. The Government’s favourite for development would appear to be anaerobic digestion of biodegradable wastes, common elsewhere in the EU, but the final decision rests with local authorities. Another strong steer is for the recovery of energy from wood that cannot be recycled or re-used.

Recovery and recycling

The strategy sets a national target for re-use, recycling and composting of household waste plus an overall target for recovery of municipal waste (see box).

Household waste
(Re-use, recycling and composting):

40% by 2010
45% by 2015
50% by 2020

Municipal waste

53% by 2010
67% by 2015
75% by 2020

The Government will continue to support the work of the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to develop national markets for recycled materials but its remit is to be extended to examining the export potential for recycled materials in order to address unspecified "risks to UK recycling levels" and also to achieve compliance with controls on exports of waste.

Legislation allowing local authorities to band together into joint waste authorities and the new Best Value Performance Indicators for waste announced in April 2007 (which include a minimum 20% of recycling and composting across the country) may stimulate investment in new recycling infrastructure. Local authorities are to be actively encouraged to consider non-municipal as well as municipal waste sources and particularly not to preclude treatment of waste from both sources at the same facilities. This may increase the economic viability of new recycling infrastructure.

Planning and investment

The drivers for local authority-decision making are to be radically overhauled as part of the proposals announced in the separate Local Government White Paper. This will include the requirement for delivery plans for implementation of sustainability policies to be included as part of Local Area Agreements. These are to reflect local needs and contain targets for improvement agreed between central government and local stakeholders. However, local authority performance will also be judged against national standards for outcomes and 200 mandatory indicators. A number of those 200 indicators, including amounts of municipal and household waste produced, recycled and landfilled, must be adopted by the local authority. The final package is to be published later this year.

The recent Planning White Paper proposes reforms of the planning procedure for nationally significant infrastructure projects and the use of National Policy Statements setting down centralised policy on such infrastructure. We understand that the waste strategy would form the basis of any waste National Policy Statement. Regional and local development plans are to conform to current national planning guidance on waste contained in Planning Policy Statement 10.

Regional Development Agencies are to help identify business waste infrastructure needs, facilitate development of regional and sub-regional recovery and processing facilities and explore potential for co-operation across regions where appropriate. In addition a new DEFRA initiative, the Waste Infrastructure Development Programme (WIDP), will:

  • establish and monitor the shortfall in residual waste treatment capacity to achieve landfill diversion targets
  • assess to what extent this has been taken into account by planning authorities
  • support local authorities by providing PFI credits, grants and advice on technology choice, funding, procurement and contract negotiation
  • ensure full use of joint merchant/municipal facilities treating both private sector and municipal waste streams
  • monitor the flow of large projects to achieve a better competitive environment for procurement
  • ensure the scale of new projects takes account of expected waste growth and recycling levels
  • encourage new entrants eg by simplifying documentation and appropriate risk-sharing
  • develop markets for secondary recovered fuel
  • communicate with local stakeholders

The strategy also makes clear that in order to facilitate entry to the market by smaller waste services providers, contracts for integrated collection, treatment and other services will be discouraged. Authorities may in future also be able to require an element of community benefit alongside project delivery, a so-called "social clause". Financial assistance to local authorities to procure new waste infrastructure (including PFI credits) will depend on their "engagement with the planning process" – the meaning of which is unclear. Future funding needs are currently being reviewed as part of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

Only 10 local authorities had to buy in or borrow allowances under the Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme (LATS) in its first year (2005/06) with overall biodegradable municipal waste undershooting total allowance allocations by 18.5%. The review of LATS to take place this year will not address allocation of allowances but will consider allowing authorities to take into account increased home composting. As a driver for new infrastructure, LATS is therefore likely to be neutral.

Impacts for Business

Landfill tax and closures

As referred to above, standard rate landfill tax will rise by 8% year on year. In addition, following the re-licensing of landfills under the pollution prevention and control scheme, an estimated 1,200 currently operational landfills may close, leaving only 450 and probably putting upwards pressure on gate fees.

Waste regulation

The Environment Agency is developing further waste protocols to assist business in deciding what materials are regulated by the waste regime and draft updated guidance from DEFRA and the Agency on interpretation of the notoriously opaque definition of waste is to be consulted on. This follows the decision by the European Commission not to amend the definition of waste. It will build on guidance issued by the Commission in February 2007 on the distinction between by-products (not waste) and residues (waste).

Producer responsibility

A new products and materials unit in DEFRA is examining lifecycle impacts within the areas of food and drink, passenger transport, housing and household appliances and clothing. Its first report is expected in Spring 2008 identifying products with the highest impact. There is no clear link with the listed priority wastes.

Priority wastes

Food and garden

Included in the strategy are:

  • New packaging recycling targets to be set higher than EU requirements, extension of the Courtauld Commitment (a voluntary agreement to minimise packaging waste) amongst food retailers to other retail sectors and new packaging minimisation standards by product class
  • A wider waste reduction and recycling agreement with the paper industry
  • A sector voluntary agreement for separate collection of decorative paints and garden chemicals
  • A statutory producer responsibility scheme for non-packaging farm plastics and implementation of a scheme for batteries as required by the EU Batteries Directive
  • Current consultation on mandatory Site Waste Management Plans for the construction industry, following the voluntary code of practice launched by DTI in 2004
  • Targets for reduction of waste produced by the food industry: the Food Industry Sustainability Strategy contains a target of reducing food industry wastes by 15–20% by 2010
  • Minimum recycled content for glass products

Other initiatives of note:

  • review of the regulation of inert wastes – formal consultation is promised by the end of this year
  • the shift of onus for characterisation and pre-treatment of waste (which can include source segregation) on to producers – referred to above
  • review of waste management licence exemption regime, by April 2009
  • review of controls on handling, transfer and transport of waste – draft amending regulations to be published following results of a consultation, which closed on 6 March 2007
  • a concerted effort to tackle illegal waste practices including flytipping
  • increased focus on enforcement of transfrontier shipment controls, from 2007 onwards
  • forthcoming new regulations on management of mines waste


On the whole there are few surprises in the new strategy, although full implementation would introduce some significant changes. A new Waste Strategy Board is charged with its implementation, with input from a Waste Stakeholder Group.

Business will increasingly feel the impact of reduced availability of landfill space plus increases in landfill tax. For the waste management industry, there are opportunities to diversify away from landfill operation to operate the increasing number of recycling and energy from waste facilities that will be needed in order for local authorities to perform against new waste performance standards. Authorities will have greater support in the procurement process from the new WIDP within DEFRA. It remains to be seen whether this will have any effect on the ability of projects to overcome the resistance of local residents to the siting of facilities in their immediate vicinity. A waste National Planning Statement may ease the passage.

To achieve its objectives, the strategy relies heavily on voluntary rather than legally binding initiatives. Opportunities for stakeholder dialogue and entering sector agreements, plus the issue of guidance on best practice abound, with fewer requirements for changes in the law, at least before a period of further policy development and consultation. In that regard, the strategy document does not provide a settled picture of waste strategy for the future, but rather a progress report and snapshot of current thinking.

This is hardly surprising since, whatever the national strategy, the biggest driver for change in recent years has come from Brussels. The European waste framework is currently under review. Hence, the national strategy cannot but retain an air of impermanence until reform at the European level is settled.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.