22 January 2016 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The UK government has missed its own waste reduction target, according to a report published at the end of last year by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The report Greening Government Commitments explains how “an ambitious framework of targets for reducing the UK government’s environmental impacts by 2014-15 against a 2009-10 baseline” had been set out.
This includes cutting greenhouse gas emissions, domestic flights, waste, paper, and water. The targets also aim to improve how government procures its goods and services to ensure they deliver the best full-life value for money, while reducing environmental impacts, and improving transparency in areas including climate change adaptation and biodiversity on the government estate.
The GGC targets apply to 22 central government departments and non-ministerial Government departments in England and many of their arm’s length bodies (ALBs)
The report states that the government as a whole reported a 22 per cent reduction in total waste generated – the same level as 2013-14. But this was still below the 2009-10 baseline of a 25 per cent reduction. It also states that 16 out of 22 departments met or exceeded the 2015 reduction target – up from 13 in 2013-14 and 8 in 2012-13.
Similarly, the government only reached a 22 per cent reduction in its GHG emissions target by 2015 compared with a 2009-10 baseline from the whole estate. However, if the MoD, which reports a 19 per cent reduction despite its considerable challenges, is excluded, government as a whole reports a 25 per cent reduction − 17 out of 22 departments met or exceeded the target, compared with 16 in 2013 to 2014. This has meant savings worth an estimated £164 million were achieved through reduced energy consumption.
In a joint foreword to the report, Oliver Letwin, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Rory Stewart, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs, said: “The Greening Government Commitments encapsulate an unprecedented level of ambition for reducing the UK government’s environmental impacts within a five-year period. The results reported here reveal that those ambitions have led to impressive results in most areas.
They added: “While these headline achievements may fall slightly short of the targets set for 2014-15, the picture at department-level shows that many departments are meeting and exceeding targets, while others are recording valiant reductions in face of significant operational challenges. Overall, the reductions outlined here are estimated to have saved the government £185 million in energy, waste and water costs in 2014-15 compared to 2009-10. The government is currently considering future Greening Government arrangements.”
Greening Government Commitments 2014 to 2015 annual report can be found here.