Last reviewed 26 March 2021

Defra has outlined plans for wide-ranging waste prevention measures in an effort to “ramp up action” across several key sectors.

The new Waste Prevention Programme for England sets out how the Government and industry can collaborate on new ways to “minimise waste and work towards a more resource efficient economy”.

The key industry sectors targeted include construction, fashion, furniture, electrical and electronic products, road vehicles, packaging, plastics and single-use items and food. 

Launching the proposals, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said the Government was “firmly committed to ending the throwaway culture as we build back greener”.

“Major retailers and fashion brands have made strides in reducing their environmental footprint but there is more we must do. That is why, through our world-leading Environment Bill and landmark reforms, we will take steps to tackle fast fashion by incentivising recycling and encouraging innovation in new design.”

According to Defra, the construction industry is the largest generator of waste, producing over 60 million tonnes of non-hazardous waste each year in England, with up to 15% of materials being wasted during the construction process. Defra wants the sector to shift towards a more circular economy by increasing the reuse of construction material at their highest value.

Defra also wants to see an increase in reuse, repair and remanufacture of electronic and electrical (WEEE) products with a stronger emphasis on ecodesign principles to phase out unnecessary waste. Currently, 24% of treatable WEEE is potentially lost to the residual waste stream.

Defra’s plan is to encourage all industry sectors to shift towards a more circular economy by increasing the reuse of products and material at their highest value. Commenting on the new waste prevention proposals, Pete Belk, Circular Economy Campaign Director at Business in the Community, said:

“We welcome the government’s focus on reuse, repair and remanufacturing in key sectors like textiles, construction and food. We want business to embrace the opportunities to avoid carbon, reduce material use and create green jobs by embracing the opportunities set out in the Waste Prevention Programme.”

The consultation is open until 10 June. Businesses can respond to the proposals here.