That was the year that was

Written by: David Burrows | Published:
Eric Pickles leaves the DCLG in May

Was 2015 a momentous year for you? David Burrows takes a look over the last 12 months, which saw food waste take up a lot of column inches in the national and trade press, a general election as well as the unveiling of the revised circular economy package


- Asda launches a trial selling wonky veg – and sets the tone for a year in which food waste becomes ‘the’ environmental hot topic

- The government tells the EFRA committee that it’s merely “refocusing” rather than “stepping back” on waste management policies

- The Tories claim a landfill ban on food would cost £447m; Labour backtracks on its plans to introduce one

- WRAP becomes a charity – four months earlier than planned


- The British Association of Biobased and Biodegradable Chemicals is formed

- Defra report shows how the waste sector generates almost £7bn for the UK economy

- Aylesford Newsprint, which recycled 13% of UK paper, closes

- Ricardo report shows how councils are coping with austerity through innovative waste management services


- Political support gathers for an Office for Resource Management

- NNFCC study shows AD plants number 185, with 500 more under development

- The CLG committee calls for taxes, increased fines and on-pack information after litter levels “barely improve” in a decade


- A provocative DCLG report suggests councils should “buy together” and save £70m

- The UK is reported to be one of the five biggest WEEE producers in the world

- Three councils begin trialling laminated pack recycling schemes

- Recycling & Waste World goes monthly


- The Conservatives win the election with a majority – prompting pollsters to eat their hats

- Eric Pickles (pictured above) is removed from the DCLG – prompting the waste sector to throw hats in the air

- Rory Stewart is appointed parliamentary under-secretary of state at Defra with responsibility for resource management

- Five years on, did we get the “greenest government ever? Nope.


- Within a month the new government has killed nine ‘green’ subsidy schemes

- Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan is launched to meet the stretching 57% by 2017 target

- The UK will have too much capacity in its residual waste management structure by 2020, predicts consultancy Eunomia


- HMRC gets tough on landfill tax evasion with a new taskforce

- Huge disparity in gate fees found: some councils pay £43/t, while others receive £86/t

- The UK government “rubbishes” plans for higher EU targets on recycling

- First quarterly (and “inconsistent”) data on MRF input and puts is published


- Figures for 2014 show recycling levels crept up to 44.8%, with total waste generated up 3.7% to 22.4mT

- Electrical capacity from anaerobic digestion passes 500MW mark

- Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) brands government proposals to cut renewable energy subsidies “disturbing”

- Waste contractors, foodservice operators and campaigners plea with government to deliver a litter reduction strategy


- UK’s most advanced glass recycling facility opens in Lanarkshire, Scotland

- Kerry McCarthy, armed already with her food waste bill, becomes shadow minister for the environment

- Suez and SLR Consulting report produces roadmap to hit 50% recycling by 2020

- New Recycle Now scheme launched to encourage more plastics recycling

- Sir James Bevan appointed as chief executive at the Environment Agency


- ISWA reports on the “tragic case” of the world’s huge open dumpsites

- England’s “confusing” 5p plastic bag tax comes into force

- Scotland’s environment minister announces his intention to set a food waste reduction target

- Eunomia report suggests the role of waste management in emissions abatement is massively underplayed


- WRAP figures show retail food waste figures are falling thanks to the Courtauld Commitment

- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall doesn’t think so – he attacks supermarket practices in his BBC1 War on Waste series

- Food waste and marine litter reduction targets, as well as landfill bans, will not be part of the circular economy package, reports claim

- Defra and DCLG agree to 30% cuts in the spending review


- South Oxfordshire tops Defra’s recycling league once more

- London’s mayor comes under attack for capital’s recycling rates “going in wrong direction”

- UK waste sector welcomes new recycling targets in the circular economy package, but calls for more innovation and leadership

- Viridor wins a 25-year contract in Wales to process 95,000 tonnes of residual waste

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