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Agency steps up drive to minimise waste
Agency steps up drive to minimise wasteKeywords: Environment, Waste, Cost reduction
An environment agency drive to help businesses cut the costs – both financial and environmental – associated with producing waste, is about to take on a new national impetus.
The agency is already involved in more than 100 projects across England and Wales, supporting companies minimise the waste they generate.
Some of the initiatives have already generated combined savings of millions of pounds for the firms involved, because of dramatic reductions in the use of raw materials and energy as well as production and waste disposal costs:
The Medway and Swale Waste Minimisation Project in Kent identified annual savings of nearly £4 million for the 11 firms involved in its first phase. The environmental benefits it identified included 116,000 tonnes less waste going to landfill per annum, 539,000 cubic metres less water used, as well as significant reductions in effluent discharges, energy consumption and emissions to air.
The Don, Rother and Dearne Waste Minimisation Project – involving 24 companies in total – revealed potential savings of more than £1 million annually, of which more than £500,000 had actually been achieved by the end of its second phase. It also spotlighted huge potential reductions in waste and other environmental benefits.
Four Gloucestershire firms which have undertaken a waste minimisation programme have this month revealed savings totalling £100,000.
The Agency has today published its new waste minimisation policy, aimed at ensuring that its work in this key issue is applied consistently across England and Wales and deploys the best techniques. The objectives of the policy include:
the integration, where appropriate, of waste minimisation into the Agency's regulation of industry, including the Agency's approach under the forthcoming Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) regime;
the targeting of its waste minimisation work on industry sectors which are likely to yield the greatest benefits;
the establishment of guidance for Agency staff to help them prioritise waste minimisation work;
the initiation of research on waste prevention and minimisation techniques;
the continuing development of partnership approaches to the work with a wide range of organisations.
The Agency's Director of Environmental Protection, Dr Paul Leinster, said:
Waste minimisation is an important tool for industry since it delivers cost-effective environmental protection. As part of our approach to regulation, the Agency will be working with industry to encourage the adoption of waste minimisation techniques. In particular, operations which will be regulated under IPPC will be expected to show that the application of such techniques is an integral part of site management.
We are also committed to developing and supporting new initiatives to achieve waste minimisation. This can range from partnerships with waste minimisation clubs to campaigns focused on particular industries, or educational projects.
The point is that everyone benefits. If we can help companies reduce waste generation by the control of material and energy resources then it is good for them and good for the environment.
In the longer term it is our hope that waste minimisation becomes an integral part of business practice and planning across England and Wales.
The policy establishes the pivotal role we have to play in reducing waste production and the means by which we can be most effective on a national basis.
The Agency's work to help minimise industrial waste is a central part of broader efforts to reduce the use of our natural resources in society as a whole. In that regard the agency is working with government bodies, educational establishments and other organisations, as well as business and trade groups.
Copies of the policy are available from Jon Foreman, Environment Agency, Environmental Protection National Service, Block 1, Government Buildings, Burghill Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol BS6 7PL. Tel: +44 (0) 117 914 2779; Fax: +44 (0) 117 914 2770; www.environment-agency.gov.uk