Friends of the Earth has published a report which analyses what materials are likely to be in residual municipal waste after high levels of reuse, recycling and composting. The research, carried out by EnviroCentre Consultants, found that a large reduction in residual wastes could potentially be achieved by improving capture rates, and through addressing some specific high-tonnage waste streams.

The less residual waste we have, the less demand there is for facilities such as landfills, mechanical biological treatment plants or incinerators, to process it. Higher levels of reuse, recycling and composting will reduce our climate impacts and increase the efficiency with which we use resources. The second phase of research will now examine policy measures that could be taken in order to get these materials reused, recycled, composted â?” or prevented.

The research comes at a time when residual waste â?” that is the waste that is not reused, recycled or composted â?” is becoming an increasing priority for both local and national government. The Governmentâ?Ts England Waste strategy, launched in May, set a national target for reducing residual waste, and the Government has since proposed that residual waste tonnage per capita should be a key indicator for monitoring the performance of local councils on waste.

Dr Michael Warhurst, senior waste and resources campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

â?oThis fascinating research shows us the both the challenge and the opportunity that we have ahead of us in taking the long- term direction of phasing out residual waste. It is clear that this is the right policy direction, both to minimise our climate impacts and to maximise our resource efficiency. We are looking forward to the results of the second phase to identify solid policy measures.â??

The results were estimated based on two scenarios:

§ one assumed that everything that could be recycled had already been (hypothetical scenario)

§ the other assumed that some recyclables would still end up in residual waste, e.g. because of households not using the recycling system properly (practical scenario).

The most significant types of residual waste in the hypothetical scenario were found to be â?~other paper and cardâ?T [wallpaper, tissues etc], construction and demolition waste, furniture, disposable nappies and mixed bagged waste. Wastes in the practical scenario were similar, except the largest tonnage was kitchen waste. In the practical scenario, plastic packaging â?” which has the highest public profile â?” actually came in just outside the top 10 materials by weight.


The UK consumes more than its fair share of the world‘‘s resources, creating environmental and social problems across the world, particularly in developing countries. Many of these resources are literally wasted through the mainly linear process of material use in our economies. Materials are extracted, used or further processed into products where they are used and then disposed of to landfill and incinerators. There is a clear need to improve UK and EU resource efficiency, and reduce climate impacts, through promoting waste prevention, reuse, recycling and composting and by phasing out residual waste.

England and the three devolved administrations now have separate waste strategies, all of which have a stated objective of reducing the amount of residual waste going to disposal. The Waste Strategy for England 2007 also commits the government to setting targets for local government on residual waste, that which is not reused, recycled or composted.

Even with an excellent doorstep collection of recyclable materials and products for households, provision of civic amenity sites and bulky waste collections, there are still residual wastes arising from households. The development of policies to remove these materials and products from the waste s

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #42-2006-October 19, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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