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Environment Agency unveils new strategy for tackling tomorrows waste

Helping businesses use resources more efficiently and divert more waste from landfill were today unveiled as top targets for the Environment Agency over the next five years. Launched on day two of the Agency’s annual conference, the new Corporate Strategy for 2010-2015 also outlines the key challenges that are facing businesses and communities over the next five years and what needs to be done to meet those challenges including:

Hazardous waste:

Overview: There has been a step change in the management of hazardous waste since the banning of co-disposal and mixing pits. Government has also consulted on a proposed Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management in England – a move that will lead to further improvements in hazardous waste treatment.

What next? Hazardous waste poses particular risks to the environment and health so it is especially important that they are managed properly. It needs to be designed out at source, reduced and recycled wherever possible and residues managed safety.

Biodegradable waste:

Overview: Over 100 million tonnes of bio-waste is produced in the UK every year. Much of this is recycled by spreading on to land.

What next? Biowaste sent to landfill generates methane which is 20 times more potent than CO2. As well as needing to reduce biowaste production we want more of this valuable resource to be turned into energy and soil conditioners through greater uptake of anerobic digestion.

Waste Crime:

Overview: Hefty fines and tough sentences have been handed out to waste criminals in 454 prosecutions brought as a result of the Environment Agency’s crackdown on waste crime.

What next? Waste crime is unacceptable. It puts our environment and our health at risk and undercuts legitimate businesses. We want to see businesses taking much more responsibility for the safe and lawful management of their waste and the courts still need to make sure crime does not pay.

Head of Waste and Resources Liz Parkes said: "Last year the total environmental costs of waste sent to landfill and incinerators in the UK rather than being recycled were £336million.

"But the latest estimates are that UK companies could save in the region of £6.4 billion a year by using resources more efficiently. Collaborative work by the Environment Agency and WRAP to set new quality standards for waste recovery could result in 17 million tonnes of waste being diverted and over 2 million tonnes of carbon and 14 million tonnes of raw materials being saved.

"Good progress is being made towards municipal waste and packaging recovery targets. Regulated companies have also reduced the amount of waste they produce by 14% since 2005.
But more can be done.

"The bottom line is population growth and consumption patterns are placing an unsustainable burden on the planet’s resources. Add climate change to the mix and we have no choice. Businesses must treat waste a valuable resource. In turn, we are working to make it easier for businesses to do the right thing and taking tough action against those who flout the law."

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