DEFRA’s Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) Programme has been established to provide targeted guidance and support to businesses to improve their resource efficiency and to minimise the levels of waste that are unnecessarily sent to landfill. For example, the BREW Programme funds the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP). NISP matches one operator’s waste with another’s raw material needs. In the first two years of its operation, in the region of 1.7 million tonnes of material have been diverted from landfill, with £70 million of cost savings.
An early assessment of selected BREW activities suggests that the programme has made a good start in returning landfill tax receipts to businesses and helping them improve their resource efficiency. Around £4 has been saved by business for each £1 of BREW-funded advice and support. There were also reductions in water use, waste sent to landfill and the amounts of raw materials used by businesses. Many of the benefits will be seen beyond 2005-06, and work is currently under way to assess the impact of programme spending in 2006-07. More details about the BREW Programme can be found on the DEFRA website.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is also working across a range of industry sectors to reduce waste arisings. For example, WRAP is working with retailers and their supply chains towards its 2006-08 business plan target to secure reductions in packaging waste of 80,000 tonnes a year. WRAP has specific programmes with the construction and manufacturing sectors.
My Department has also produced the publication “Saving money by reducing waste”, which gives practical guidance on waste minimisation for farmers and growers and is available from the DEFRA website.
Apart from guidance and support offered by DEFRA, there are also two sets of regulations in place to encourage producers (including retailers) to minimise, recycle and recover packaging and reduce packaging waste. We have asked the Advisory Committee on Packaging to work with industry to find further solutions to the challenge of minimising packaging, and recommend ways of encouraging businesses to further reduce the amount of packaging they use.
The Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS), which was published in April 2006, also challenged the food manufacturing sector to reduce its own waste by 15-20 per cent. by 2010. Thirteen major grocery retailers (representing 92 per cent. of the UK grocery sector) have signed up to a voluntary agreement, the “Courtauld Commitment”, and are working with WRAP to:
(i) design out packaging waste growth by 2008;
(ii) deliver absolute reductions in packaging waste by March 2010; and
(iii) identify ways to tackle the problem of food waste.