Defra sets target to halve residual waste per person by 2042


The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published legally binding targets that commit government to halve the waste per person that is sent to residual treatment by 2042.

The targets, which set out to protect the environment, air and rivers and boost nature were published by Defra late last week.

The UK Government was criticised by opposition MPs for missing its original deadline to publish updated environment targets by the end of October 2022, citing the “significant” public response to the target consultation.

Defra says it will publish its Environmental Improvement Plan in January 2023, which will set out in “more detail” how it will achieve these targets, including interim targets.

Publication of the targets follows three years of “detailed consideration” of the scientific and economic evidence, which was published in March 2022, to inform draft targets, Defra says.

A consultation on these was run earlier this year which saw over 180,000 responses from a range of individuals, businesses and other organisations.

We are committed to leaving our natural world in a better state for future generations.

Speaking at the UN Convention in Montreal, Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey, said: “We are committed to leaving our natural world in a better state for future generations, and today we are laying the foundations that will help deliver on this commitment.

“These targets are ambitious and will be challenging to achieve – but they will drive our efforts to restore our natural environment, protect our much-loved landscapes and green spaces and marine environment, as well as help tackle climate change.”

The targets commit the government to halt the decline in species populations by 2030, and then increase populations by at least 10% to exceed current levels by 2042; restore precious water bodies to their natural state by cracking down on harmful pollution;

deliver net zero and boost nature recovery by increasing tree and woodland cover to 16.5% of total land area in England by 2050; restore 70% of designated features in Marine Protected Areas to a favourable condition by 2042, with the rest in a recovering condition; and cut exposure to the most harmful air pollutant to human health.

CIWM welcomes the residual waste reduction target, as it is an objective and measurable metric.

Commenting on the target announcement, Environment Agency chief executive, Sir James Bevan, said: “The Environment Agency exists to create a better place. We welcome these legally binding targets which will do precisely that, by driving action in the areas that matter most.

“The Environment Agency played a central role in developing the targets. We will now play an active role in helping to deliver them.”

Ray Parmenter, Head of Technical and Policy at CIWM, said: “CIWM welcomes the residual waste reduction target, as it is an objective and measurable metric.

“The amendments Defra have made to the scope allays our fears that the target could be skewed by imports and exports of waste to the devolved nations and by excluding iron recovered from EfW algins the target with the current metrics for measuring household waste recycling.

“We are, however, slightly disappointed, but not surprised that there were no further developments on the resource productivity target and look forward to working with Defra in the future to help develop this metric.”

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