The Government’s Committee on Climate Change has called for a strategy to be developed to prevent paper and cardboard being sent to landfill in order to reduce emissions.
In its 2012 Annual Progress Report, there is an entire chapter devoted to the contribution recycling and waste management has made to reducing emissions from greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.
Waste emissions fell by 3 per cent in 2010, continuing a long-term trend where emissions fell by 64 per cent over the period since 1990. Most of this was from reduced methane emissions from landfill sites.
Food waste and paper/card sent to landfill are the two largest sources of waste emissions and offer the largest potential to reduce emissions.
As a result, the report calls on the Government to introduce specific strategies for reducing the amount of these waste streams sent to landfill.
The report states: “In particular, the Government should develop specific strategies for reducing food and paper/card waste sent to landfill as these waste streams are identified as the two largest contributors to future waste emissions and the two largest sources of low-cost abatement potential.
“Strategies should set out an approach to monitoring progress and policy options to address any slow progress across the key sectors and the full waste chain (i.e. the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, from production and retail through to final disposal). Strategies should build on work underway as part of the Waste Review and be developed by the end of 2013.”
To monitor progress on this, the report suggests that the amount of paper/card sent to landfill should be reduced by 46 per cent by 2020 through increased recycling and use of energy from waste.
It says that this would require the Government to be more ambitious than at present, and could include stronger measures such as higher recycling targets, mandatory sorting and collection requirements, and landfill bans/restrictions.
The Committee on Climate Change is an independent body established under the Climate Change Act to advise the Government on emissions targets, and to report to Parliament on progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.