Resource Use

Wales publishes Waste Prevention Programme


Image adapted from a WRAP diagram

The Welsh Government has today (3 December) published a Waste Prevention Programme for Wales, which describes the ‘outcomes, policies, targets and work programme to address waste prevention in Wales’.

Under the European Commission’s revised Waste Framework Directive (rWFD), all member states have to ‘develop National Waste Prevention Programmes (NWPPs) concentrating on the key environmental impacts and taking into account the whole life-cycle of products and materials’ by 12 December 2013. (The EC’s handbook on NWPPs states, however, that the ‘planning and the decision’ of the programme have to be finalised at this date, but not the ‘implementation and evaluation’.)

According to the EC, the purpose of NWPPs is to ‘move member states broadly towards the long-term goal of phasing out waste’ with the ‘stabilisation of waste generation’ as a key preliminary aim, followed by targets for ‘absolute reductions over five to twenty years’.

Writing in the foreword to the Welsh report, Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies said: ‘This Waste Prevention Programme supports Towards Zero Waste by describing the outcomes, policies, targets and outline work programme to address waste prevention from businesses and households…

‘Implementing this programme will help the Welsh Government to meet two key priorities – tackling poverty, and growth and sustainable jobs – as well as protecting the environment and contributing towards a sustainable Wales.

'We will help tackle poverty by providing low cost, high quality goods to people in need in our communities, through actions on reuse, refurbishment and remanufacture. We will increase the amount of surplus food that is made available for people to eat.’

Davies added that a ‘key objective’ of the programme is to ‘break the link between waste generation and economic growth’.

He concluded: ‘A thriving economy with high levels of employment is key to the wellbeing of the people of Wales but we also need to secure a healthy and abundant supply of natural resources. These are not contradictory aims – there are huge financial savings to be made through waste prevention actions and the Welsh Government will support businesses and citizens to take full advantage of them.

‘Businesses know the challenges to preventing waste, and how the Welsh Government can provide support to make it happen… We will encourage the businesses that work with us to demonstrate waste prevention, and will make it easy for our staff and the citizens that use our services to do so.’

NWPP for Wales details

It is hoped the NWPP for Wales will ensure that householders and businesses are able to reduce:

  • the quantity of waste, including through the reuse of products or the extension of the lifespan of products;
  • the adverse impacts of the generated waste on the environment and human health; and
  • the content of harmful substances in materials and products.

Household waste

As outlined in the plan, household waste will need to be reduced by 1.2 per cent every year to 2050 (based on 2006/7 baseline).

Further, waste prevention activities will be targeted at the priority areas of food, paper, card, plastic (primarily packaging), clothing and consumer goods (including electrical and electronic equipment), and goods containing hazardous substances.

As such, the Welsh Government is to produce a Waste Communications Campaign to ‘kick-start a widespread culture change which results in products and materials being seen in a new light – as valuable resources not waste’. Products will reportedly be a central focus in shaping this culture change. This includes the purchase, use and reuse of consumer products, as well as preventing food waste.

A community based social marketing (CBSM) programme is also being proposed to support local waste prevention and recycling behaviour projects. The Welsh Government has said it is looking to develop a CBSM type project through working with retailers to promote more sustainable shopping choices.

Financial incentives, such as rewards, will also be ‘further explored’ in the medium term, but the NWPP outlines that there are no plans to introduce new charges for household waste collection or waste prevention ‘while there is progress in this area’.

Industrial and commercial waste

As outlined in the waste sector plan for the commercial and industrial sectors, ‘Towards Zero Waste One Wales: One Planet Industrial and Commercial Sector Plan’, also released today, industrial waste will need to be reduced by 1.4 per cent every year to 2050 (based on 2006/7 baseline), while commercial waste will need to be reduced by 1.2 per cent every year to 2050.

It is proposed that these targets will be monitored against gross value added (GVA).

Priority areas for action are:

  • working with large retailers and their supply chains;
  • promoting ‘eco-innovation’ in the manufacturing sector in Wales; and
  • promoting the public sector as an exemplar.

Action will also be focused on the ‘priority’ sectors of food manufacturing, accommodation and food services, permitted industry, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and small retailers and wholesalers.

As such, the Welsh Government will develop an ‘enhanced programme’ with the food manufacture sector to ‘extend the scope [of waste prevention] beyond food and its associated packaging to incorporate all the priority materials, such as chemicals and non packaging paper and card’.

Further, work will ‘extended’ to non-food consumer goods, and to secondary and tertiary packaging used to transport and store goods. The packaging waste generated by online shopping will also be tackled.


The Welsh Government is also proposing to develop an initiative to enhance ‘eco-innovation’ in manufacturing businesses in Wales.

This will include:

  • targeting sectors and businesses where there is greater potential for resource efficiency gains through eco-innovation.
  • staged interventions according to where businesses are on their ‘innovation journey’.

The initiative will prioritise businesses within life sciences and health, the low-carbon sector, energy and environment, and advanced engineering and materials, but will not exclude excellent eco-innovation projects in any sector.

Delivery could either be through ‘enhancing eligibility’ within the existing Welsh Government Economy, Science and Transport Department innovation offering (such as innovation vouchers, knowledge transfer networks and research development and innovation funding) or by developing new programmes.

Construction and demolition waste

This sector has a waste prevention target of 1.4 per cent every year to 2050 based on 2006/7 baseline.

Priority materials are:

  • wood;
  • plastic;
  • insulation and gypsum;
  • hazardous waste (primarily contaminated soil);
  • metals; and
  • concrete, bricks, tiles and ceramics, bituminous substances.

Priorty areas for focus on waste prevention are:

  • the design of buildings and construction projects;
  • the design of construction products;
  • damage to construction products in transit;
  • over-ordering by builders;
  • the use of excess products generated on site;
  • the demolition and refurbishment of buildings.

As such, the Welsh Government will focus on the promotion and development of modern methods of construction (MMC) as well as ‘simpler solutions’ (such as the use of standardised sizes for materials) to help reduce the amount of off-cuts produced on site.

It will also develop guidance documents ‘including but not limited to guidance for manufacturers to ensure their product is handled appropriately to reduce the risk of damage/waste’.

The Welsh Government will also ask Constructing Excellence in Wales (CEW) to investigate the viability of introducing an 80:20 per cent ordering scheme in Wales in order to minimise wastage through over-ordering.

Design for deconstruction will be promoted through the development of design standards and guidance.

Reuse and Repair for Wales

According to the NWPP for Wales, a reuse and repair programme is being developed which will include:

  • a communications campaign;
  • measures to encourage separate collections of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) at designated collection facilities and work with approved authorised treatment facilities (AATFs) to encourage more repair, reuse and resale at their facilities;
  • the role of green procurement;
  • establishing the infrastructure for a reuse network including shared warehousing, establishing a phone line, public communication; and
  • creating standards for reuse to allow reuse organisations to offer reused products that have been subjected to a quality assured process.

The Welsh Government has said it will soon produce a Data and Evidence Strategy to outline requirements and identify suitable sources, and a plan for collating and analysing the data and other evidence in a ‘timely and effective manner’ to support policy development and delivery.

The performance measures for each project will also be monitored to ensure ‘value for money’.

Annual progress reports will be published on the Welsh Government website.

All NWPPs will also need to be reviewed and revised at least every six years and will have to take into account the EC’s own waste prevention and decoupling objectives, which will be released by the end of 2014.

The UK government has yet to publish an NWPP for England.

Read more about the Wales’s Waste Prevention Programme, or read the ‘Industrial and Commercial Sector Plan’.