Defra commits to halving residual waste per person by 2042

Defra has set out a series of legally binding targets ‘to protect our environment, clean up our air and rivers and boost nature’, including halving the amount of residual waste per capita by 2042. Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey stated the Government’s aspiration that the commitment will leave ‘our natural world in a better state for future generations’.

Energy from Waste plantDefra will publish the full ‘Environmental Improvement Plan’ in January 2023, which will set out the specifics of the commitments, including strategies and interim targets.

The department was criticised for missing the original deadline for the target announcement, which was originally set for October 2022.

Defra says the targets result from ‘three years of detailed consideration of the scientific and economic evidence’. The progress report for this research was published in March 2022. A public consultation – which received 180,000 responses – ran earlier this year.

Other commitments outlined last week (16 December) include halting the decline in species populations by 2030, increasing the same populations by at least 10 per cent by 2042, restoring water bodies, and increasing tree and woodland cover to 16.5 per cent of total land area in England by 2050.

The announcement came during the conclusion of COP15 in Montreal, Canada, at which 195 countries agreed to protect 30 per cent of the world’s land and ocean by 2030.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said at the COP15 in Montreal last week (16 December): “These targets are ambitious and will be challenging to achieve – but they will drive our efforts to restore our natural environment, protect our much-loved landscapes and green spaces and marine environment, as well as help tackle climate change”.

Marian Spain, chief executive of Natural England, commented on the targets: “The message is clear: without the ambitious targets to tackle climate change and reverse the long-term decline in Nature, we will be unable to sustain the ecosystems on which we rely for our health and our prosperity.

“We therefore welcome today’s publication of the statutory targets needed to put Nature recovery at the heart of the government’s priorities. With the first targets only eight years away, we are already working with the government and with businesses, land managers and environmental charities through the Nature Recovery Network Partnership to ensure that we are on track to turn around England’s loss of nature and deliver the ambitions set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.”

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, added: “The Environment Agency exists to create a better place.

“We welcome these legally binding targets which will do precisely that, by driving action in the areas that matter most. The Environment Agency played a central role in developing the targets. We will now play an active role in helping to deliver them.”