The most recent statistics1 show that since 2000, waste (business and municipal) has grown significantly less than the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP). This equates to average growth in waste of less than 0.5 per cent. per year, over the last five years. The average municipal waste growth up to the millennium was around 3.5 per cent. per year, indicating a significant step change in the UK’s waste management. Data for 2006-07, expected in autumn 2007, will provide further useful evidence on whether the trends of recent years have been sustained.
Between 1998-99 and 2002-03, the amount of waste produced by businesses in England fell from 69 million tonnes to 68 million tonnes per year2, while GDP increased by about 10 per cent. In this period, industrial waste fell by 6 per cent. (2.5 million tonnes), declining faster than industrial gross value added (GVA)3, which fell by 3.5 per cent. Commercial waste increased by 6 per cent. (1.7 million tonnes), compared with the 29 per cent. increase in commercial GVA. These changes mainly reflect increased employment in the service sectors and a decrease in industrial activity, along with increasing reliance on imports.
The overall aim of waste prevention is to decouple waste growth from increases in GDP. The recently published Waste Strategy 2007 renews the Government’s commitment to breaking the link between economic growth and waste growth, by placing more emphasis on waste prevention and re-use.
1 Municipal Waste Statistics 2005-06.
2 Environment Agency Survey of Commercial and Industrial Waste 2002-03.
3 Gross value added (GVA) measures the contribution to the economy of each individual producer, industry or sector. The GVA generated by any unit engaged in production activity can be calculated as the residual of the units’ total output less intermediate consumption (that is, goods and services used up in the process of producing the output), or as the sum of the factor incomes generated by the production process.
Waste statistics kept by my Department are available from the DEFRA website at the following address:
The recently published Waste Strategy contains a series of national level performance indicators, including on household waste per head after reuse, recycling and composting and waste arisings by key sectors (municipal, commercial and industrial, and construction and demolition waste). These indicators will be used to track progress in delivering the objectives of the strategy.