Climate Policy Dashboard - Tracking progress to deliver net zero

 

Waste Sector

CONTENTS

Progress Ranking and Key Recommendations | Sector Summary | Recent Policy Developments | Further detail: CCC policy recommendations

The Waste Sector has insufficient climate policy

Progress ranking and key recommendations

Progress Ranking: CRITICALLY INSUFFICIENT (3/10)

Key actions on the road to world-leading policy

  • The Environment Bill has been delayed from passing into law, and the National Food Strategy White Paper is yet to be published.
  • There is currently no comprehensive policy to address energy-from-waste (EfW) emissions, which are currently growing in the UK.
  • Policy consultations associated with the Resources and Waste Strategy have been delayed, most notably on introducing Extended Producer Responsibility and introducing a Deposit Return Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is hampering the pace of policy development in the sector.

  • Of 20 recommendations that can currently be assessed for the waste sector, none have been met in full, with six partially met, and five not met at all.
  1. The Government needs to ensure that the Environment Bill passes through Parliament before COP26. This is a crucial test of the Government's environmental credentials.

  2. The Government should release any necessary secondary legislation or other policy instruments related to the Environment Bill as early as possible to allow stakeholders sufficient time to prepare for their implementation.

  3. The National Food Strategy White Paper should be published with policies to reduce food waste

  4. There needs to be a policy direction to curb the rise of emissions from the energy from waste sector.

  5. The Government should outline a policy delivery mechanism on the banning of exporting plastic waste to non-OECD countries.

Sector Summary

  • Waste emissions in 2019 were 25MtCO2e, or 5% of the UK total (CCC Progress Report, 2021). 
  • Emissions fell 2% from 2018-19 (CCC Sixth Carbon Budget, 2020)
  • Major emission reductions will come from resource efficiency, increased recycling rates, reduced landfill waste, and falling energy-from-waste emissions 
  • Current government ambition and policy in the areas of resource efficiency and waste is insufficient and limited and risk falling behind on the pathway to net zero 
The waste sector represented 5% of UK emissions in 2019.
Waste sector share of territorial emissions, 2019
Source: Climate Change Committee - Progress Report (2021)

 

Recent Policy Developments

  • The Government published a policy paper in November 2020, stating that legislation will be introduced in the Finance Bill 2021 to establish a Plastic Packaging Tax, to take effect from April 2022. This is a new tax that will apply to plastic packaging manufactured in, or imported into the UK, that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic.
  • The Government launched a consultation on introducing Extended Producer Responsibility, published in March 2021, closing on 4 June 2021.
  • The Government launched a consultation on introducing a Deposit Return Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, published in March 2021, closing on 4 June 2021 - this would take effect potentially from late 2024 (this consultation was launched in 2019, to take effect from 2023, but has been delayed due to COVID-19).
  • The Government launched a consultation on the Waste Prevention Programme for England: Towards a Resource-Efficient Economy in March 2021 to close on 10 June 2021.
  • The Government launched a consultation on ensuring consistency in household and business recycling in England, published in May 2021, closing on 4 July 2021.

Further detail: Policy recommendations from the CCC

#

Focus

Key Recommendation from the CCC

Government Progress

Met?

1

Waste reduction and recycling

Accelerate investment plans for local authorities to be able to put in place universal municipal waste recycling collections, rolled out across England during 2022-24, along with the required recycling, composting and anaerobic digestion facilities.


The Environment Bill (Clause 56) sets out new requirements for separate collection of key recyclable waste streams for households, non-domestic premises and commercial and industrial premises in England. These streams include food waste, plastics, paper and card, metal packaging and glass. The Bill also requires garden waste to be collected from households. The Government launched a consultation on ensuring consistency in household and business recycling in England, published in May 2021, closing on 4 July 2021.

The NZS states the Government are bringing forward £295 million of capital funding which will allow local authorities in England to prepare to implement free separate food waste collections for all households from 2025.

Partly

2

Energy from Waste

Examine the impact of waste targets on the utilisation of (and need for further) energy from waste plants, and issue a set of guidance notes to help align local authority waste contracts and planning policy to these targets.

The Government, when responding to the CCC's 2020 Progress Report, said the Environment Bill requires them to set at least one legislative target in the area of resource efficiency and waste reduction. They stated that future plans to help inform waste infrastructure needs will form part of the National Infrastructure Strategy, but no policies to meet this recommendation have been implemented. It is not clear yet whether the Environment Bill will help address this policy gap.

 

N/A

3

Waste reduction and recycling

Build on Resources and Waste Strategy for England, introducing greater ambition for efficiency in manufacturing, reduction in consumer demand and material substitution.

The Government has published the following consultations which flow from the Resources and Waste Strategy:

  • A consultation on introducing Extended Producer Responsibility, published in March 2021.
  • A consultation on introducing a Deposit Return Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, published in March 2021. This would take effect potentially from late 2024 (this consultation was launched in 2019, to take effect from 2023, but has been delayed due to COVID-19).
  • A consultation on the Waste Prevention Programme for England: Towards a Resource-Efficient Economy, published in March 2021.

Partly

4

Waste reduction and recycling

The National Food Strategy White Paper should include immediate measures to reduce food waste, and mandatory business food-waste reporting should be introduced.

The National Food Strategy White Paper needs to be published and the Government needs to consult on mandatory food reporting (this was due to take place in 2020 or early 2021).

 

N/A

5

Landfill and exports

Banning biodegradable waste from landfill by 2025 as a priority via prevention, re-use and recycling, without increased waste export and no more than 20% increase in EfW emissions.

The Net Zero Strategy states that the Government will explore options to achieve the near-elimination of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill by 2028 in England. However, the CCC recommended this be met by 2025 and cover commercial and industrial waste also.

Scotland have introduced a landfill ban on biodegradable municipal waste by 2025.

 

Partly

6

Landfill and exports

Export of waste should be banned by 2030, but full landfill waste bans should not be rushed and only enacted when residual volumes of waste have been lowered and CCS installed on remaining energy-from-waste plants.

The Environment Bill contains powers (under Clause 61) enabling the Secretary of State to regulate the import, export or transit of waste and hazardous waste. The Government intends to use these powers to ban the export of polluting plastic waste to non-OECD countries, consulting with industry, NGOs, and local councils on the date by which this should be achieved. However, non-OECD countries receive only ~40% of the UK's plastic waste, and the ban does not cover other forms of waste.

 

For further detail see Policy Connect's report Plastic Packaging Plan: Achieving Zero Waste Exports.

Partly

7

Waste reduction and recycling

Recycling ambition should increase to 68% in 2030 in England, with 70% for NI and above 70% for Wales and Scotland.

The Government has committed to a 65% recycling rate by 2035 based on analysis of major waste reforms to achieve consistent recycling collections, a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, and packaging extended producer responsibility. They state that further analysis is required and further commitments for recycling will be considered for the next Environmental Improvement Plan.

Partly

8

Energy from waste

Need to prevent future growth in energy-from-waste (EfW) emissions (which continue to grow currently), by focusing on waste prevention, re-use and recycling, and fitting CCS to any remaining EfW plants. Current EfW plants under construction represent 3-10MtCO2e/y future emissions – we will need to either cancel many of these, have CCS applied soon, or reduce plant utilisation rates significantly. Any new EfW plants should be CCS ready, and built in areas where CCS infrastructure will be available soon.

There has been as of yet no policy developed by the Government to prevent the growth of EfW emissions. Wales will place a moratorium on any future large scale energy from waste developments.

No

9

Landfill and exports

New incentives are need for landfill operators to reduce emissions. The Renewables Obligation closed in 2017, which significantly reduced incentives to capture methane emissions. New policy is needed here to fill this gap.

There has been as of yet no policy developed by the Government to provide incentives for landfill operators to reduce emissions.

No

10

Wastewater

Ofwat should include wastewater decarbonisation as one of its core principles and this needs to be embedded into the sector's investment framework.

Ofwat have not included wastewater decarbonisation as one of their core principles. Water UK have published their plan to deliver a net zero water supply by 2030 in the world’s first sector-wide commitment, reaching net-zero two decades ahead of the UK Government’s legally binding target of 2050.

No

11

Waste reduction and recycling

Composting facilities need incentives to install forced aeration to reduce methane emissions.

There has been as of yet no policy developed by the Government to ensure composting facilities have incentives to install forced aeration.

 

No

12

Waste reduction and recycling

Waste data collection needs to be improved for Commericial & Industry waste and EfW waste should be collected at a devolved administration level.

The Government in its response to the 2020 CCC Progress Report said it is working to achieve improved Commercial and Industry waste data in the coming years through the Waste Tracking programme.

Partly

13 Energy from waste Consult (with BEIS) on the introduction of a carbon tax (either as part of the UK ETS or a separate instrument) aimed at curbing rising emissions from Energy from Waste N/A - The CCC has recommended this is achieved by 2022 N/A
14 Energy from waste Set out how existing Energy from Waste plants will be supported to be retrofitted with CCUS from late 2020s onwards, with 2050 a backstop date for full CCUS coverage. N/A - The CCC has recommended this is achieved by 2022 N/A
15 Waste reduction and recycling Work with business to encourage and enable consumers to share, lease and use products for longer while discouraging ‘disposable’ business models. N/A - The CCC has recommended this is achieved by Spring 2022 N/A
16 Landfill and exports Introduce policies and funding for increased methane capture and oxidation at landfill sites, to decrease fugitive landfill methane emissions significantly. N/A - The CCC has recommended this is achieved by 2022 N/A
17 Wastewater Commit innovation funding to development and demonstration of novel wastewater treatment process that achieve a step change improvement in direct process emissions. N/A - The CCC has recommended this is achieved by 2022 N/A
18 Wastewater Outside of the municipal wastewater sector, incentivise industrial wastewater plants to reduce their process emissions. N/A - The CCC has recommended this is achieved from 2022 N/A
19 Energy from waste Long-term plans should be announced for eventual diversion of all wastes from landfill (except for where no alternative treatment or disposal method exists) but with a date conditional on sufficient action on reduction, re-use and recycling, and installation of CCS at energy-from- waste plants, to avoid a surge in fossil emissions when the ban comes into force N/A - The CCC has recommended this is achieved by the mid-2020s N/A
20 Wastewater Work with the Environment Agency, Ofwat and other stakeholders to set out targets and supporting measures for reducing water use by business. This could be through ensuring that any water reduction targets linked to the Environment Bill include business as well as household water use, and responding to advice and recommendations from Defra’s new Senior Water Demand Reduction Group N/A - The CCC has recommended this is achieved by 2022 N/A

Last updated 26th August 2021 to account for the Hydrogen Strategy (August 2021)

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