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United Kingdom

  1. General facts
  2. National legislative framework
  3. National policies on waste
  4. Instruments
  5. Data on waste management
  6. National legislation on waste (selected)
  7. Bibliography

1. General facts

General facts
Surface area 243 820 Km²
Population (tousand inhabitans) 59 438
Population density 244 inhabitants/Km²
Average number of persons per private

Passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants** 447
GDP per capita in Purchasing Power
Standards(PPS) EU25=100

GDP per capita (Constant prices) EUR 18 779 (at 1995 and exchange rates)
Land use*** -% agriculture land
11.5% forests and other wooded land
-% buildt-up and related land
-% wet open land
-% dry open land
-% Water
Household characteristics by
urbanisation degree, distribution of
households % ****
59% in densely populated areas(at least 500 inhab./Km²)
20% in intermediate urbanised areas(100 - 499 inhab./Km²)
21% in sparsely populated areas(less than 100 inhab./Km²)
Gross value added (GVA) -
At current basic prices and current
exchange rates (% of all branches).
18% Industry, including energy
6% Construction
23% Trade, transport and communication services
30% Buisness activities and financial services
22% Other services
1% Agriculture, hunting and fishing

Source: Eurostat, 2004 except from * 2003; ** EUROSTAT/DGTREN, 2002; ***2000; ****1999

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2. National legislative framework

National Acts/Laws on Waste Management
Reference Main features
Environmental Protection Act 1990 Part II refers to the collection, disposal or treatment of controlled waste
The Environment Act (1995) Part V refers to the Waste strategy for England and Wales and the National Waste Strategy : Scotland
Pollution prevention and control Act (1999) This Act implements Council Directive 96/61/EC for preventing and controlling pollution; it also makes provision about expired or expiring waste management licences
Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act. (2005) This provides local authorities, parish and community councils and the Environment Agency with more effective powers to tackle abandoned vehicles, litter and waste in England and Wales.

2.1 Summary of the legislation relevant to waste management

The legal framework for the England and Wales waste strategy is set out in part V of the Environment Act (1995). The Landfill regulations (2002) implement the Landfill Directive. The Waste and Emissions Trading Act provides the basis for establishing Landfill Allowances.
In Wales, the Landfill Allowances Scheme was launched on 1 October 2004. The Scheme introduced under the Landfill Allowances Scheme (Wales) Regulations 2004, sets limits on the amount of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) that each of the 22 Waste Disposal Authorities in Wales may landfill.
On 1 April 2005, the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme was launched to provide Local Authorities with the flexibility to manage waste more effectively. The system revolves around transferable allowances which will enable the greatest amount of waste diversion to occur in areas where it is cheapest, and most practicable to do so. This recognises the fact that the diversion costs each waste disposal authority faces will differ according to their particular circumstances.
A number of stakeholders are involved in developing waste related plans:
Central Government has an important part to play by ensuring that adequate national planning policies are in place in order that sustainable waste management practices can be exercised at the regional and local levels in terms of the location and use of facilities.
Regional Planning Bodies in England apply national policies as part of the process of drawing up Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS)
Local Authorities have a wide range of responsibilities that relate to waste. Their main responsibilities are to act as:

Waste planning authorities: are responsible for ensuring that an adequate planning framework exists. They are required to prepare a Local Development Framework which has to take account of national Planning Policy Statement 10 Planning for Sustainable Waste Management (PPS10) and RSS Waste Planning Authorities also have responsibility for determining planning applications for waste management facilities
There are 376 Waste Collection Authorities (WCA) in England and Wales who are responsible for collecting waste from nearly 22 million homes and some businesses. The WCA decide when and how waste will be collected and arrange for a contractor to do this. They specify the types of waste they will collect, the day they will collect it and how often, and any special arrangements for collecting waste for recycling. Waste collection authorities also work with local communities and with waste disposal authorities to encourage them to increase the amount of waste that they recycle.
The waste disposal authority (WDA) has to manage the waste that is collected by the local councils. In some cases the WDA is the same council as the WCA, if not it is often the county council for the area. There are different arrangements depending on the structure of local government. WDAs are responsible for developing and implementing plans to deal with municipal waste. They should work with WCAs to develop plans to meet European targets to reduce the amount of household waste that is landfilled. WDAs also arrange for places where householders can take their waste known as civic amenity sites.
Local authorities are required to set targets under “Best Value” arrangements. Such targets must take account of the waste strategy. Specifically:

Local Authorities are also required to collect two recyclable fractions.
In Wales each of the 22 unitary authorities has the responsibility of producing a development plan, which identifies the designated land uses in its area. There are three Regional Waste Groups in Wales each of which is responsible for producing a Regional Waste Plan in accordance with the Welsh Assembly Government’s Planning Policy Wales Technical Advice Note (TAN) 21: Waste.
In Wales there is a single tier of 22 local authorities that are both Waste Collection and Waste Disposal authorities. These authorities have been set aspirational minimisation, recycling and composting targets in Wise about Waste: The National Waste Strategy for Wales.

National and local Waste Management Plans
Period of implementation Main features
Waste Strategy
2000 (England and Wales)
Waste Strategy 2000 sets out targets for the reduction of waste sent to landfill from municipal/household and commercial/industrial sectors. It also includes targets for increasing the recycling of waste. None of the targets are legally binding. However, statutory targets were placed on local authorities in order to meet the national target. These national and statutory local targets are being reviewed later this year, as part of a revised waste strategy.
National Waste Strategy:
The National Waste Strategy: Scotland (published Dec 1999) sets the framework and policies for moving towards sustainable waste management.
National Waste Plan
2003 - 2020
The National Waste Plan (2003) sets out the approach for implementing the National Waste Strategy to 2020 and provides an integrated summary of 11 Area Waste Plans in Scotland. Objectives of the NWP include:
  • aim to stop growth in the amount of municipal waste produced by 2010
  • achieve 25% recycling and composting of municipal waste by 2006, and 55% by 2020
  • reduce landfilling of municipal waste from around 90% to 30%
Wise about Waste: The National Waste Strategy for Wales
2002 - 2007
Wise about Waste: The National Waste Strategy for Wales (2002 – 2007) addresses all waste streams, including municipal and non-municipal. It aims to promote the sustainable management of wastes so that they become resources. It contains targets for the reduction, recycling and composting of municipal wastes.
Waste Not Want Not
2003 - 2015
Waste Not Want Not’ provides a number of policy recommendations that contributes towards implementation of the Waste Strategy 2000.
The recommendations in Waste Not Want Not aim to: reduce the growth rate in waste from 3% to 2% per annum ; boost recycling by developing the infrastructure needed; increase choice by creating the economic incentives within which a wider range of options for managing waste can develop: giving industry, local authorities and households greater flexibility over how they manage their waste, as well as the incentive to reduce damage to the environment; stimulate innovation in waste treatment and waste management organisations.
Waste Strategy 2000 for England and Wales

(In Wales this is replaced by ‘Wise about Waste: The National Waste Strategy for Wales)
In 2000 just 9% of household waste was recycled and a further 8% has energy recovered from it. Latest figures 2004-05 show that the UK recycling rate is 23% with a further 9% having energy recovered from it.
The Government and the National Assembly have set challenging targets to increase the recycling of municipal waste:

Furthermore, by 2005 to the amount of industrial and commercial waste landfilled should be reduced to 85% of 1998 levels.
To ensure that all local authorities contribute to achieving these targets, the Government has l set statutory performance standards for local authority recycling in England. Latest information indicates that the target for 2005 is likely to have been met.
There are further targets to reduce the amount of BMW landfilled. These arise from the landfill directive (the UK has agreed with the European Commission a four year derogation to meet targets the targets). These targets, as set out in Waste strategy 2000, are:

Tradable allowances have been introduced to restrict the amount of biodegradable municipal waste local authorities can send to landfill. In 1999 it was announced that the standard rate of landfill tax would increase from £10 per tonne by £1 per year, with a review in 2004. Further increases were announced in the pre budget report of 2002 that it would increase by £3 per year up to a level of £35 per tonne. The Landfill Tax currently stands at £21per tonne. This provides waste producers and local authorities with a strong incentive to send less waste to landfill.
A number of stakeholders are involved in developing waste related plans in England and Wales

The Waste Strategy 2000

Waste Strategy 2000 describes the vision for dealing with England’s waste. It sets out the changes needed to deliver more sustainable development. It aims:

The Government also accepted the recommendations of the ’Waste Not Want Not’ report published in 2002, as a consequence a number of additional public expenditure programmes were set up. These included:

Wise about Waste: The National Waste Strategy for Wales (2002)

In Wales there are the following targets for municipal wastes:
For non-hazardous wastes:

For hazardous wastes:
By 2003/04 all civic amenity sites should have facilities to receive and store, prior to proper disposal, bonded asbestos sheets. All sites should also have facilities for receiving and storing, prior to recycling, oils, paints, solvents and fluorescent light bulbs.
Achievement of waste strategy targets in Wales is supported by hypothecated funding, in the form of an annual ‘Sustainable Waste Management Grant’ (SWMG). Each local authority in Wales has produced a ‘Municipal Waste Management Strategy (MWMS) in accordance with guidance issued jointly by the Assembly Government and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).
The landfill allowances scheme started in Wales on 1 October 2004 to meet the requirements of Article 5.2 of the Landfill Directive (as implemented by the Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003.
The scheme is based on a linear reduction in the quantities of BMW being sent to landfill, does not include trading and imposes a fine of £200/tonne for each tonne sent to landfill in excess of that allowed. The linear reduction in waste sent to landfill is intended to encourage reuse, recycling and composting in the early years of the scheme, with treatment of residual waste, including energy from waste in the later years. The Assembly Government wishes to see investment in tangible diversion through provision of collection and treatment infrastructure, rather than trading in allowances.

National Waste Plan for Scotland (2003)

The National Waste Plan 2003 was prepared by the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in consultation with key stakeholders including the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA), the waste industry and the community sector. It provides an integrated summary of the 11 Area Waste Plans which identified the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) for dealing with municipal solid waste. Implementation of the NWP is being funded by the Strategic Waste Fund.
The 11 Area Waste Plans were developed using 20 criteria to determine the BPEO. These criteria include environmental impacts, resource use, and social and economic costs and benefits. They also addressed issues related to the practicability and risk associated with different solutions, and their ability to deliver on statutory and policy commitments.
Implementation of the National Waste Plan will:

The Northern Ireland Waste Management Strategy 2006 - 2020

The Northern Ireland Waste Management Strategy, “Towards Resource Management”, aims to move waste management away from landfill towards more sustainable practices. Key objectives include:

The Strategy contains specific, non-statutory targets for the recycling and composting of municipal and non-municipal waste streams

Transposition of Landfill and Incineration Directives
Transposition Act/Law/decree Year of transposition Text available
Landfill directive99/31 Waste and emissions trading Act 2003
Landfill allowances scheme (Wales) regs Oct 2004
Landfill allowances and trading scheme
2002 part
2004 part
July 2005 final
Y English
Landfill Decision 33/03 Landfill Amendment regs 2004 and 2005 Y English
Incineration directive 76/00 PPC regulations 2000 no 1973
Amended by stat inst 2002 no 2980
Waste incineration regulation (England and Wales)
Dec 2002 Y English

The Landfill Directive, except Articles 5.1 and 5.2, was transposed into domestic legislation by the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations. These came into force on 15 June 2002. In Scotland, the Directive has been transposed by means of several instruments. The Landfill (Scotland) Regulations 2003 implement most requirements of the Directive as regards Scotland. Most of the provisions of Article 14 of the Directive relating to existing landfills were transposed in a Ministerial Direction under section 40 of the Environment Act 1995 to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency on 20 June 2002 and another on 14 July 2005 deals with waste acceptance criteria established under Article 16.
The Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003, implements Article 5.2, which contain the targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste landfilled.
In Northern Ireland the Directive is transposed by the Landfill Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 (as amended) made under powers contained in the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002. The Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003 (the WET Act) also applies to Northern Ireland. The Landfill Allowances Scheme (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2004 are made under enabling powers contained in the WET Act 2003 and implements Articles 5.1 and 5.2 of the Landfill Directive which contains the targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have agreed that the Waste and Emissions Trading Bill will apply to them also, thus implementing Articles 5.1 and 5.2 of the Directive in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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3. National policies on waste

Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS)

England launched the world’s first allowance trading scheme for municipal waste in April 2005.
The scheme aims to give local authorities flexibility in meeting tough Landfill Directive targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) going to landfill sites.
The Government has given local authorities allowances for the amount of BMW they can landfill for every year of the scheme until 2020. The allowances have been allocated to constrain total amount of BMW landfilled in landfill directive target years, 2010, 2013 and 2020. Local authorities can trade allowances with each other, sell allowances if they have diverted more waste from landfill (e.g. recycling) or buy more if they are likely to exceed their own allocation. Local authorities can also bank unused allowances or borrow from their future allocations, depending on the scheme year. The advantages of the scheme that have been identified include:

The monitoring authority (the Environment Agency for England and Wales) will reconcile the number of permits held by an authority for a given period with the volume of waste that authority has sent to landfill over the same period. If the enforcing body finds that the volume of waste landfilled exceeds the amounts for which permits are available, a financial penalty will be applied (£150 per tonne fine for every tonne of BMW that is landfilled over the level of allowances held)
The Northern Ireland Landfill Allowance Scheme (NILAS) was also introduced in April 2005. The Directive’s targets are achieved through the allocation to Councils who are liable to a fine of £150 per tonne of BMW that is landfilled over the allowance allocation. NILAS is implemented in similar terms to LAS in England, the only difference being that no money based trading of allowances is permitted. Instead allowances may be transferred free of charge between authorities.

Landfill Tax

Introduced in the UK in 1996 as an economic instrument to reflect the true costs of landfill and encourage the movement from landfill towards reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery. The regulations also incorporate a tax credit scheme for use on environmental projects. The tax has an explicit environmental objective and is already having a notable impact on waste management practices. There are two tax rates, £2 per tonne inert waste and £16 per tonne for active waste (rates in 2005). It has been announced in budget 2006 that a further landfill tax escalator of at least £3 per tonne will be applied taking landfill tax to £21 per tonne for active waste in 2007 towards a medium to long term rate of £35 per tonne. The increase has encouraged a greater diversion of waste from landfill.

Incentive schemes

The UK provides a range of incentives to promote advice and R&D to encourage recycling and shift waste management away from landfilling and incineration.
These incentives include:

For instance, the UK has a well-established programme called Envirowise, that has been in place for more than 10 years and has been subjected to a number of evaluations. More recently this programme has been expanded and combined with related energy and research programmes in the Business and Resource Efficiency and Waste programme

General policies

The Household Waste Recycling Act 2003 (England) requires all English waste collection authorities to collect at least two types of recyclable waste from all households in their area, which could include batteries, garden waste, glass, hazardous household liquids (i.e. paint and varnish), kitchen waste, metals, paper, plastics, textiles and shoes, electrical or electronic waste (e-waste) and wood. The aim of the Act is to increase the recycling rate, by helping local authorities achieve their statutory recycling targets which underpin national targets to recycle or compost at least 25% of household waste by 2005, 30% by 2010 and 33% by 2015.

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4. Instruments

The most important policy instruments that influence waste in the UK are the landfill tax, landfill tax credit scheme and landfill allowance trading scheme (LATS). The combined effect of these policies is intended to reduce the use of landfill and promote other recovery and recycling options. The landfill allowance trading scheme has only recently been introduced, so it is too early to say whether it has had an impact. However, the early findings suggest a positive response with a large number of Local Authorities using the scheme to plan future waste contracts.
There are two tax rates, £2 per tonne inert waste and £16 per tonne for active waste (rates in 2005). Meanwhile, it has been announced in budget 2006 that a further landfill tax escalator of at least £3 per tonne will be applied taking landfill tax to £21 per tonne for active waste in 2007 towards a medium to long term rate of £35 per tonne. The increases in the standard rate of landfill tax are contributing to a move away from over-reliance on landfill and provisional figures show that between 1997 and 2005, the volume of active waste disposed at landfill sites fell by almost 16 per cent, with the biggest fall occurring in the last year.

Kind of instrument Landfill tax
Year of introduction 1996
Rate(s) £2 per tonne inert waste and £16 per tonne for active waste (rates in 2005). It has been announced in budget 2006 that a further landfill tax escalator of at least £3 per tonne will be applied taking landfill tax to £21 per tonne for active waste in 2007 towards a medium to long term rate of £35 per tonne.
Purpose of instrument To encourage a reduction in landfill of waste and promote recycling. Also revenue raising. The tax on municipal waste is paid by households and local authorities and the tax on commercial and industrial waste streams are paid by business sectors.
Receiver of revenue HM Treasury
Administrative level Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
Other information of relevance Employer National insurance contributions were reduced by 0.2% in the business sectors affected to offset the impact of the landfill tax
Objectives achieved Yes in the commercial sector but not in the municipal sector
Source of information DEFRA website: www.defra.gov.uk

LTCS is no longer in operation. There is now a Government funded programme targeted through the Waste Implementation Programme, which covers the following areas: research and data; new technologies; waste minimisation local authority support and public awareness.

Kind of instrument Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS)
Year of introduction 2005
Purpose of instrument To meet the landfill targets
Type of permits system Allowances allocated to local authorities based on mass of municipal waste landfilled in 2001/02
Waste streams involved in the trading Biodegradable municipal waste; commercial and industrial sectors
Administrative level Local waste management areas
Actors involved Local authorities, regulators, DEFRA, regional bodies
Targets achieved Too early to say
Source of information DEFRA website

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5. Data on waste management

Waste generation and treatment in 1000 tonnes
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Total waste generation - - - 424704 - - - - -
Municipal waste generated 28900 28900 31042 31697 33392 33954 34946 35535 -
Municipal waste landfilled 23990 25261 26880 26693 27493 27608 27824 27429 27283
Biodegradable municipal waste generated 18260 - - - - - - - -
Biodegradable waste landfilled - - - - - - 19226 18864 18010
Used tyres generated - - - 465 - - 481 - -

Source: Eurostat structural Indicators

Waste generation and treatment in kg per capita
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Total waste generation - - - 7273 - - - - -
Municipal waste generated 499 512 533 543 570 578 592 600 593
Municipal waste landfilled 414 440 461 456 469 469 474 465 440
Biodegradable municipal waste generated 315 - - - - - - - -
Biodegradable waste landfilled - - - - - - 326 319 303
Used tyres generated - - - 8 - - 8 - -

Source: Eurostat structural Indicators

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6. National legislation on waste (selected)

National regulations Exists or not (Y/N) Reference (if available)
Landfill Y The Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002 (as amended)
The Landfill (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2004
The Landfill (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2005
The Landfill (Scotland) Regulations 2003 (as amended)
The Landfill Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 (as amended)
The Landfill (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2004
Incineration Y PPC regulations
BMW (Bio-degradable municipal waste) Y Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003
Packaging Y Environment Act 1995
The Producer Responsibility Obligations (NI) Order 1998.
The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2000
The Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999, SR:115
Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999, SR 496
Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002, SR 239
Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2004, SR 106
Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005, SR 329
Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 1999, SI 1361
Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2003 SI 3294
This material describes and outlines the reponsibility of producers under Statutory Instrument 3294 Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2000, SI 3375
Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997, SI 648
End-of Life Vehicles / Tyres Y The regulations came into effect on 3 November 2003 and apply to sites used for the storage and treatment of ELVs. The regulations require operators working under a registered exemption to apply for a site licence (if accepting vehicles that have not been de-polluted) and set new minimum technical standards for all sites that store or treat ELVs.
Waste of electrical and electronic equipment N Consultation on the regulations and guidance in Northern Ireland issued July 2006.
Batteries Y Covered by hazardous waste regulations
Construction/demolition waste Y Covered by landfill regulations

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7. Bibliography

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