In the UK, the first of a series of responsibility deals announced under the Government's Waste Review has been launched by environment minister Lord Henley on 23 June 2011.
Under the deal, which is voluntary, the Government will work with the Environmental Services Association (ESA) to help businesses prevent waste and recycle more of what they do produce. The deal will make it easier for businesses to deal with their waste by improving recycling services for SMEs and giving them better information on prevention and treatment methods.
To help achieve this, ESA will encourage its members - mainly waste contractors - to increase awareness of their services among SMEs and be more innovative by offering a more bespoke approach. The association will also develop a code of practice for materials recycling facilities (MRFs) to boost quality levels in recovering recyclates.
Both the ESA and government will work with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), other business trade bodies and chambers of commerce, and local government organisations to drive waste prevention. The ESA and FSB will also work on developing and promoting best practice on making contracts more user-friendly.
Meanwhile the Waste Resources & Action Programme (WRAP) will investigate and publicise a range of trade waste service models that could be adopted by waste contractors, local authorities or social enterprises to improve service access for SMEs. Defra also plans to include provisions on improved SME collections in the revised waste and recycling services commitment it is developing with councils. According to the department, UK businesses could save up to £18bn a year by taking steps to reduce their waste.
Announcing the "ground-breaking" deal, Lord Henley said: "Businesses will benefit from more user-friendly waste management services while the Government will be looking for ways to recognise good performance by waste management companies and in particular to cut red tape for those who are doing the right thing." The deal will also promote consistent and proportionate enforcement by the Environment Agency, reduce red tape and other burdens on good performers, and maintain a level-playing field between public and private waste contractors.