Larac blames ‘inertia’ on waste reforms for landfill rise – MRW

A rise in the use of landfill for biodegradable municipal waste should “create some urgency” over Government funding of alternatives, the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (Larac) has said.

Reacting to Defra’s UK statistics on waste, Larac said the increase in UK biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill from 6.1m tonnes in 2020 to 6.8m tonnes in 2021 indicated it was unlikely that the target of near-elimination of landfill for these wastes by 2028 would be met.

Larac said Defra had asked authorities in England for evidence to support the development of policies that deliver this from 2028. 

“This is only five years away, so this seems unlikely to be achieved if recent inertia in government is anything to go by,” a Larac statement said. “Larac feels the increase in biodegradable waste in landfills should create some urgency in government policymaking and funding of alternative measures. “Local authorities need support to get services in place to get these valuable resources out of landfill.”

Larac chair Cathy Cook said: “The delay in information about consistent collections is impeding progress in diverting biodegradable waste, specifically food waste collections for England, and the absence of new burdens funding means that around half of England’s local authorities don’t have any other option where landfill is their current disposal route.”

New burdens funding is a system under which central government covers the cost of new duties it imposes on councils.

Cook added: “A delay in consistency also means that there is a delay in moving forwards with services to collect additional dry recycling materials as well.”

She said it was not surprising that UK recycling rates were shown in the statistics as having stagnated as there was a lack of impetus for local authorities to prioritise waste reduction services for residents.  

The statistics showed the UK recycling rate for waste from households, including incinerator bottom ash metal was 44.6% in 2021, increasing from 44.4% in 2020.

This broke down into 44.1% for England, 48.4% for Northern Ireland, 41.7% in Scotland and 56.7% in Wales. There was 63.2% rate of UK packaging waste recycled in 2021, just above the 63.1% recorded the previous year.

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