REUSING, RECYCLING and RECOVERING ENERGY from the waste make up the middle of the hierarchy.
In addition to the broad principles of the hierarchy, EU law covers all aspects of waste collection and treatment in great detail. The Landfill Directive and the Waste Framework Directive also set targets such as:
Recycling or preparing for reuse 50% of household waste by 2020
Reusing, recycling or recovering 70% of non-hazardous construction & demolition waste by 2020
Reducing the amount of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) going to landfill to no more than 35% of 1995 levels by 2020.
Through the combined efforts of householders, local government and ESA's Members, municipal recycling rates have risen from 12% in 2001 to over 40% in 2011. However, we need to do even better – 24m tonnes of all waste is still landfilled each year, including almost half of all municipal waste.
Failure to comply with EU and other waste law obligations could have serious consequences:
For the UK Government (and where relevant the devolved administrations) failure could mean infraction proceedings against the UK, potentially followed by fines of up to £500,000 per day.
For local authorities, the Localism Bill provides for fines incurred by the UK Government because of a local authorities' failure to manage their waste to comply with the EU targets, would be passed on indirectly to residents, as local authorities would have to recoup the fines through Council Tax.
For companies, failure to comply with their legal duty of care can lead to a penalty of up to £5,000 if convicted in the Magistrates Court or an unlimited fine if convicted in the Crown Court.
The waste management industry is committed to helping its customers avoid these risks, through the investment in treatment infrastructure it makes and the services it offers.
The industry is also helping to meet the UK's obligations under the EU Renewables Directive. This requires the UK to source 15% of its primary energy from renewable sources by 2020, equivalent to a seven-fold increase in UK renewable energy consumption from 2008 levels: the most challenging of any EU Member State .
Some forms of Energy from Waste (EfW) are officially defined as renewable, and EfW currently provides over 6% of UK renewable electricity – over 1,500 GWh (Gigawatt hours) in 2010, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). This is enough to power almost 200,000 homes for a year, or in other words, nearly all the homes in a city the size of Edinburgh.