Towards a zero waste strategy for an English local authority

Many developed countries are using a challenging Zero Waste concept to change current waste management practices to more sustainable methods of managing waste, including household waste. The concept includes waste prevention; high levels of recycling and recovery of all resources from waste; and behavioural change. This research provides a case study on the development of a Zero Waste Strategy (ZWS) for Charnwood Borough Council (CBC), an English Local Authority (LA), which has an established household waste management system. This paper describes the steps taken by the authors, together with CBC to devise and implement a ZWS. A series of focus groups were held involving elected members of the LA and members of the community. The aim was to identify the core aspects of environmental, operational and social demands in order to prioritise actions to be included in a draft ZWS. The draft underwent wider public consultation, which highlighted areas for revision, and following revision has been adopted by the LA. The ZWS takes into account local issues, local policies, alongside national strategies and legislation. Many of the options identified during this research complement each other and if used in combination may see large steps taken towards Zero Waste. This is difficult to achieve without a holistic approach to waste generation, collection, treatment and disposal. Key findings from this research are to switch the focus from recycling to reuse and waste prevention, alongside increasing education and behaviour change programmes for householders. Additionally, the potential value of separately collecting food waste, with a recognised high potential yield, must be explored to ensure meeting targets set in the ZWS and the requirements of the Landfill Directive. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.