skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Destined for indecision? A critical analysis of waste management practices in England from 1996 to 2013

Highlights: • Critical analysis of municipal waste management practices and performance in England. • Trends visualised via innovative ternary plots and changes and reasons explored. • Performance 1996–2013 moved slowly away from landfill dominance. • Large variations in %s of waste landfilled, incinerated and recycled/composted. • Progress to resource efficiency slow; affected by poor planning and hostile disputes. - Abstract: European nations are compelled to reduce reliance on landfill as a destination for household waste, and should, in principle, achieve this goal with due recognition of the aims and principles of the waste hierarchy. Past research has predominantly focused on recycling, whilst interactions between changing waste destinies, causes and drivers of household waste management change, and potential consequences for the goal of the waste hierarchy are less well understood. This study analysed Local Authority Collected Waste (LACW) for England, at national, regional and sub-regional level, in terms of the destination of household waste to landfill, incineration and recycling. Information about waste partnerships, waste management infrastructure and collection systems was collected to help identify and explain changes in waste destinies. Since 1996, the proportion of waste landfilled in England has decreased, in tandem with increases in recycling and incineration. At themore » regional and sub-regional (Local Authority; LA) level, there have been large variations in the relative proportions of waste landfilled, incinerated and recycled or composted. Annual increases in the proportion of household waste incinerated were typically larger than increases in the proportion recycled. The observed changes took place in the context of legal and financial drivers, and the circumstances of individual LAs (e.g. landfill capacity) also explained the changes seen. Where observed, shifts from landfill towards incineration constitute an approach whereby waste management moves up the waste hierarchy as opposed to an attempt to reach the most preferred option(s); in terms of resource efficiency, this practice is sub-optimal. The requirement to supply incinerators with a feedstock over their lifespan reduces the benefits of developing of recycling and waste reduction, although access to incineration infrastructure permits short-term and marked decreases in the proportion of LACW landfilled. We conclude that there is a need for clearer national strategy and co-ordination to inform and guide policy, practice, planning and investment in infrastructure such that waste management can be better aligned with the principles of the circular economy and resource efficiency. If the ongoing stand-off between national political figures and the waste sector continues, England’s waste policy remains destined for indecision.« less
Authors:
; ;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22470244
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Waste Management; Journal Volume: 39; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2015 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; COMBUSTION; COMPOST; ECONOMY; ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY; HOUSEHOLDS; INCINERATORS; INVESTMENT; LEGAL ASPECTS; MUNICIPAL WASTES; PERFORMANCE; PLANNING; RECYCLING; SANITARY LANDFILLS; UNITED KINGDOM