UK risks missing EU landfill targets

12th August 2013

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Pollution & Waste Management



Government spending cuts are undermining the country's ability to meet European targets on waste reduction, local authorities and waste firms have warned

The UK is risking “significant fines” by failing to invest in the infrastructure needed to meet targets set by the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC), according to experts from the UK’s waste sector.

Under the Directive, the UK must cut the amount of biodegradable waste being sent to landfill in 2020 to just 35% of that in 1995.

But, in an open letter to Defra, the heads of the Institute of Civil Engineers and the Environmental Services Association – the body representing the UK’s waste sector – and the Local Government Technical Advisers Group, warn there is a “potential shortfall in the amount of waste treatment capacity coming on stream in the next few years”.

The authors criticises the government’s decision in July to withdraw funding from three “major” residual waste projects as “short-sighted”.

They argue that the data being used by Defra to make investment decisions is “out of date” and cite statistics suggesting that the amount of waste being collected by local authorities is on the rise, while recycling rates have plateaued.

The bodies urge the government to review its data, saying it “poses a genuine risk to the UK’s ability to meet its 2020 targets”.

“2020 is no longer on the distant horizon and, like all major infrastructure projects, waste schemes take years to come to fruition and cannot be brought on stream at a moment’s notice,” states the letter. “Ministers should recognise that the UK’s strategy to stop waste being sent to landfill is in peril.”

The letter comes after Defra launched a consultation on its plans for a waste prevention programme for England, as required by EU legislation.

In the consultation, the environment department outlines what it sees as the roles of government, businesses and local authorities in cutting waste. Companies have a “critical role” in reducing the impacts of products, says Defra, and are encouraged to work across their supply chains and explore more “sustainable business models and product design”.

The government, meanwhile, will take on a “leadership role”, by adopting sustainable procurement practices itself and by supporting businesses through initiatives such as development of new voluntary waste management standards.

The consultation runs until 23 September and the finalised programme must be published by the end of the year to meet EU rules. The devolved governments are developing their own national waste prevention programmes. Scotland consulted on its “safeguarding Scotland’s resources programme” last summer, and the Welsh government closed its consultation on its proposals for a waste prevention programme in June.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Latest environmental legislation round-up

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Around 20% of the plastic recycled is polypropylene, but the diversity of products it protects has prevented safe reprocessing back into food packaging. Until now. David Burrows reports

3rd April 2024

Read more

A hangover from EU legislation, requirements on the need for consideration of nutrient neutrality for developments on many protected sites in England were nearly removed from the planning system in 2023.

2nd April 2024

Read more

Campaign group Wild Justice has accused the UK government of trying to relax pollution rules for housebuilders “through the backdoor”.

14th February 2024

Read more

Stella Consonni reports on the existing legal framework and the main challenges

15th January 2024

Read more

David Burrows on the stolen concept of a circular economy, and how reduction must be at the heart of product design

30th November 2023

Read more

Zero Waste Scotland is focused on closing the energy sector’s circularity gap. Kenny Taylor reports on progress so far

28th November 2023

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close