As a country we are moving away from landfill to more environmentally beneficial and higher value uses for waste. We are making good progress with diverting waste from landfill with the amount of local authority waste in England going to landfill falling by over 70% between 2000/01 and 2015/16. Landfill tax is the main driver in diverting residual waste from landfill and is currently £86.10 per tonne.
Defra is also investing £3 billion in a number of local authority projects through Waste Infrastructure Grants. This is contributing towards the reduction of waste sent to landfill, promoting renewable energy, recycling and stimulating growth.
England has already achieved a lot in the area of recycling, increasing household recycling from 11% in 2000 to 44% in 2015.
In September 2016, the Waste and Resources Action Programme and an industry advisory group published a framework for greater consistency, encouraging councils to recycle a common set of materials, as well as setting out actions to rationalise packaging, particularly plastics, into items that can be collected for recycling while supporting innovation in packaging design.
Current Packaging policies and regulations have resulted in recycling of packaging rising from around 46% in 2005 to 60% in 2015. We have also announced our intention to increase obligated businesses’ packaging recycling targets to over 75% by 2020. As part of this, we have made great progress in boosting recycling rates for plastic bottles. Their collection for recycling has increased dramatically, from less than 13,000 tonnes in 2000 to over 330,000 tonnes in 2015, and almost all local councils now collect plastic bottles as part of their general waste collection services.
As part of the Litter Strategy for England, published on 10 April, we have established a working group to look at different voluntary and economic incentives to improve recycling and reuse of packaging, and to reduce the incidence of commonly littered items. The working group’s first investigation will consider voluntary models or regulatory options and measures to target drinks containers, including plastic bottles.