As part of its five-year Environmental Improvement Plan, the government has set new interim targets for 2028 to reduce different types of waste, including plastic, glass, metal, paper and food.

The plan commits the government to halving residual waste (excluding “major” mineral waste) produced per person by 2042.

For the purposes of the target, the government says it defines “residual” waste as waste that is sent to landfill, put through incineration or used in energy recovery in the UK, or that is sent overseas to be used in energy recovery.

The residual waste target is underpinned by the interim targets for 31 January 2028:

  • Reduce residual waste (excluding major mineral waste) produced per person by 24%.
  • Reduce residual waste (excluding major mineral waste) in total tonnes by 21%.
  • Reduce municipal residual waste produced per person by 29%.
  • Reduce residual municipal food waste produced per person by 50%.
  • Reduce residual municipal plastic waste produced per person by 45%.
  • Reduce residual municipal paper and card waste produced per person by 26%.
  • Reduce residual municipal metal waste produced per person by 42%.
  • Reduce residual municipal glass waste produced per person by 48%.

As part of the plan, the government has also committed to eliminating avoidable waste by 2050 and doubling resource productivity by 2050. For help to reduce your waste Click Here

It continues that it will eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042 and seek to eliminate waste crime by 2042. The government says it will also explore options for the near elimination of biodegradable municipal waste to landfill from 2028.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says these targets will “make it easier for people to do the right thing to minimise their waste”.

The Environmental Improvement Plan is the government’s first revision of its 25 Year Environment Plan.

Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, has also confirmed the environmental principles policy statement will be published today, which means, from 1 November 2023, environmental protection and enhancement will be “embedded into the design and development of new policy across government”.

The government says the plans set out how to restore nature, improve environmental quality and increase the prosperity of the country, and also provide “new powers and duties” from the Environment Act, Agriculture Act and Fisheries Act.

Defra missed the original target for publishing the plan in a move MPs criticised as a “culture of delay” in the department.

Whether you live in a city or town, in the countryside or on the coast, join us in our national endeavour to improve the environment.

Commenting on the plan, Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, said: “Our Environmental Improvement Plan sets out how we will continue to improve our environment here in the UK and around the world. Nature is vital for our survival, crucial to our food security, clean air, and clean water as well as health and well-being benefits.

“We have already started the journey and we have seen improvements. We are transforming financial support for farmers and landowners to prioritise improving the environment, we are stepping up on tree planting, we have cleaner air, we have put a spotlight on water quality and rivers and are forcing industry to clean up its act.

“Whether you live in a city or town, in the countryside or on the coast, join us in our national endeavour to improve the environment.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, said: “This plan provides the blueprint for how we will deliver our commitment to leave our environment in a better state than we found it, making sure we drive forward progress with renewed ambition and achieve our target of not just halting, but reversing the decline of nature.”

CIWM “wholeheartedly supports” commitment towards moving to a circular economy

CIWM’s Policy & External Affairs Director, Lee Marshall, said: “CIWM welcomes the Secretary of State for the Environment’s announcement this morning on the publication of the 2023 Environmental Improvement Plan and is reassured by the supporting statement from the Prime Minister that the Plan has the highest level of support from within the government.

“The commitment move towards a circular economy is one CIWM wholeheartedly supports.

“The plan to introduce interim reduction targets for 2028 for certain types of waste, including plastic, glass, metal, paper, and food, is welcome news and they have been set at challenging levels. It is important that all policies related to resources and waste complement each other so that we can successfully move to a world beyond waste.

“These targets will therefore need to be viewed through the lens of other policy initiatives in this area, such as pEPR, DRS and, of course, consistent collections in England.

Marshall concluded by calling the proposal to launch a call for evidence to support the development of a plan to achieve the near elimination of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill from 2028 an “interesting policy development”.

He continued that CIWM will support Defra and its members in gathering and submitting the relevant evidence.

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