Environmental and Cost Consultants for Packaged Goods

Government Review of Waste Policy in England 2011

The recently published government review of Waste Policy in England is encouraging in that it starts to recognise waste as a resource and has as a key aim, decoupling waste from economic growth. It is also commendable that the focus is turning from weight of waste to carbon impact.

On the negative side, the review very much focuses on the waste hierarchy and emphasises particularly recycling as the preferred recovery route. It is disappointing that the government ignores the important caveat in the Waste Framework Directive that allows deviation from the hierarchy if LCA indicates a better alternative. In many cases this could be incineration with energy recovery as opposed to recycling (eg lightweight laminate foils contaminated with food, yogurt pots ..etc). There is also too much emphasis on the role of Business and Local Authorities to reduce waste and conveniently avoids the fundamental issue of the need to reduce consumption. As pointed out already by the BRC, the document is very general lacks any real specific policies.

In terms of packaging, the Waste Review continues to perpetuate the myth that packaging waste is a major issue. Although this may be the public perception, the scientific facts do not support this: Packaging consumption has indeed decoupled from economic growth over a number of years now and even if all packaging were to be (disastrously) removed from the market, it would have very little effect on the overall environmental impact of waste (including carbon).  Sure it is important to use the minimum amount of packaging for purpose and to ensure that it can be recovered and there is legislation to ensure that this happens. So by all means let’s make sure Business continues to take its responsibilities seriously with this but the Government should also start being more honest with the public, stop pandering to their misconceptions about packaging and start to tackle the really big impacts.


Written by PEC Partnership - © 2011

July 3, 2011 at 8:37 pm

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