The first findings of a joint project to promote sustainable consumption and production across England was today released by Barbara Young, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency. These findings give the first clear breakdown of regions environmental strengths and weaknesses, and aims to help them do better when it comes to sustainability.

SCPnet is a joint funded project by the Environment Agency, Regional Development Agencies and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). "

The new network will produce regional data showing sustainable production and consumption trends for Regional Development Agencies and Regional Assemblies so they can see how their area is performing," Barbara Young said. "That means that different regions need to take different actions to promote sustainable consumption and production and regions that have made a breakthrough can share their good practice with others," she said.

Important regional findings include: All regions saw a marked increase in the proportion of municipal waste recycled or composted between 1996/7 and 2003/4. However the South East and South West were amongst the best performers, recycling nearly a quarter of municipal waste; All regions reduced the amount of commercial and industrial waste sent to landfill. While the average reduction is from 46.8 to 40.8%, the East of England appears to have made most progress, reducing the C&I waste it sends to landfill by a third, to 34%; In CO2 household emissions the South West region has seen a significant decrease. It has the lowest direct CO2 emissions per person of all the English regions. Although it is also the region with the highest domestic electricity consumption per person; The North East made the greatest improvement in waste efficiency from commercial and industrial activity, with 7 metric tonnes less waste produced for every £1 million of income generated; Industries in Yorkshire & Humber have improved their waste efficiency by more than 8% Although the region still has the highest waste levels per million pounds of income generated with nearly 600 metric tonnes of waste per million pounds; In 1996/7, the North East and London produced the least waste per household. But since then (to 2003/4), the North West and the North East have seen the largest increases. London produced the least amount of waste per household in 1998/9. It retained its position as the region with the lowest per household waste volumes; was the only region to see an overall decrease in household waste volumes in the period from 1996/7 to 2003/4; In every English region except London, CO2 emissions from road transport have grown from 1993 to 2003; London has achieved a 10% reduction in emissions from transport at the same time as vehicle km in the city grew by 2.6%; Although it remains below the national average, London has also seen its per capita household CO2 emissions rise 8% from 343 to 370kg.

WWF Director of Campaigns, WWF Andrew Lee, welcomed the launch of the SCPnet: "We believe it's role is clear - to provide the routemap for the necessary market transformation in moving our current three planet economy to a 'One Planet Economy." "Tony Blair had already acknowledged this by endorsing a radical new plan to make that shift to a 'One Planet Economy'. This approach can only be applauded." Richard Ellis, Chair of the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) which holds the lead role for the RDAs on Defra, said: "Regional Development Agencies are well aware of the importance of sustainable production and consumption and Regional Economic Strategies need to effectively incorporate these principles in assessing their goals.

"This is why the work of SCPnet and the information which it will provide is so important - regions will be given data and models which will allow them to come together and better understand the impact growth can have. This will enable our actions in the future to be adapted to better deliver truly sustainable communities." Across England the SCPnet findings found that:: Recycled or composted waste has increased more than 150% from 7.1% in 1996/97 to 19% in 2003/04 across England; The total amount of commercial and industrial waste produced in England has changed very little from 1998/99 to 2002/03 - while economic activity has increased by more than 10%; All regions have made progress in reducing the amount of commercial and industrial waste going to landfills. Decreasing from 47% to 41% between 1998/99 and 2002/03; Direct emissions from industry and commerce fell by about 10% over 1999-2003, reflecting gains in energy efficiency, fuel switching and a move away from energy-intensive manufacturing industries. In the wholesale and retail distribution sectors, in every region, the amount of waste production grew faster than the value added by that sector.

The change in waste intensity was most marked in London, where it rose by a third over the four years. Across England as a whole, the increase was just over a quarter; Despite improvements in engine efficiency and the growing market share of diesel cars, CO2 emissions from road transport have continued to rise. In 2003, road transport accounted for 21% of the UK’s CO2 emissions. SCPnet Co-ordinator, Alice Owen said the most important function of the data is to show that there is a different story and situation in every region. "This regional data will play an important role in facilitating change in businesses and industries, in Government and in our homes. "Sustainable consumption means we have to tackle the choices we all make every day in our lives and recognise where we could do things differently," she said.