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Business Waste Prevention Evidence Review - WR1403

Waste prevention is at the top of the waste hierarchy. A major priority of the coalition government is to move towards a zero waste economy, and an important element of this will be to encourage and increase waste prevention. This review aimed to map and collate the available evidence on business waste prevention. The evidence review will help inform the preparation of England’s National Waste Prevention Programme as required under the revised EU Waste Framework Directive of 2008.

The definition of waste prevention follows the Directive, including waste avoidance, waste reduction at source or in process and product reuse – recycling is outside the scope. The focus in this evidence review is on aspects of waste prevention that are influenced directly or indirectly by businesses - it complements a previous evidence review, WR1204, which focused on household waste prevention.

The search for evidence was very broad, covering both UK and international, academic and ‘grey’, electronic and printed, and English, French and German language sources dating back at least to 1995. Almost 1,000 relevant documents were identified, of which nearly 600 passed initial screening. Much recorded evidence comes from publicly funded agencies charged with assisting businesses to promote waste prevention or resource efficiency, which also have an obligation to publish their results.

The analysis followed the broad logic of waste prevention actions by business, starting from the basic drivers of legislation and competition. Central to any analysis of the evidence is a detailed examination of the attitudes and behaviours of business. The other two fundamental perspectives used in sorting and assembling the evidence were the particular commercial or industrial sector and the types of intervention to encourage action. A key analytical tool was to characterise the actions that a business can take to prevent waste into a number of approaches.

To give focus to the review, it was necessary to select a limited number of sectors. The six sectors selected cover a broad range of activities, products, materials, services and approaches within business: Construction & Demolition, Food & Drink, Hospitality, Retail, Automotive and Office-Based Services.

The outputs of the review have been organised into a series of inter-linked modules, to highlight key features of business waste prevention practice and to make it easier for readers to ‘dip in’ to those issues of particular interest to them. The 28 stand-alone reports provided have been arranged into 4 levels. Level 1 is likely to be a reader’s starting point, comprising an executive summary, an overview report which introduces the review and summarises key findings, and a report index. Level 2 presents the full findings of the evidence review, with separate modules for the six sectors and for eight different types of intervention; as well as for hazard reduction and metrics. Level 3 focuses on several cross-cutting themes, while level 4 comprises a number of annexes, which includes the summary of a critical review of an earlier draft version of the reports, undertaken by seven individuals widely acknowledged to be experts in various aspects of the waste, resources and business advisory field; this provided a broad test of balance, rigour, completeness and relevance.
The overall aim was to map the existing evidence base related to business waste prevention. Detailed objectives covered in the mapping exercise include:
a. Research and demonstration projects on both ‘cleaner production’ and on waste minimisation.
b. Evidence related to the (business) waste prevention aspects of sustainable or ‘eco-’ design, of work on sustainable products and materials and of work on sustainable consumption and production.
c. Evidence on business attitudes and behaviours on waste prevention and resource efficiency and what drives behaviour change among businesses. The focus is on evidence, e.g. on what works and does not work and on effectiveness, rather than just on describing previous and on-going support programmes and communication campaigns. As far as the current evidence allows, results are reported by business size – a particular policy interest is on SMEs.
d. Evidence related to voluntary measures, support activities and cross supply chain working as waste prevention measures.
e. Evidence on the use and effectiveness of various policy instruments and other waste prevention measures, including but not limited to those listed in Annex IV of the Waste Framework Directive.
f. All the previous bullets include a focus on the effectiveness of the various measures. Much of the information available on effectiveness is qualitative or semi-quantitative. In addition, where possible, quantitative information on the impact of the various measures was compiled for comparative purposes, and the quality of the data used to assess impact is commented upon.
g. Evidence related to waste prevention in six specific commercial and industrial sectors, including food & drink and construction & demolition. The other sectors, hospitality, retail, automotive and office-based services, were agreed with Defra early in the project.
h. Some 25 of the most useful, informative, effective and replicable case studies from previous work were compiled, to demonstrate waste prevention in practice across a range of business types and sector.
i. How business waste prevention has been measured in previous work. The scope focused on documenting and mapping previous work, and commenting on the scope and effectiveness of those measurement methods.
The contractor worked closely with a range of stakeholder groups, to ensure that the map of the evidence base is both reasonably complete and accurate – i.e. that no major areas have been omitted and that no major evidence sources have been overlooked.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : WR1403-L1-m1-Review-Overview-Report   (1732k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m1-Introduction   (1281k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m2-Approaches   (821k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m3-Behaviours   (1081k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m4-0-Interventions   (820k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m4-1-Standards   (747k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m4-2-Labelling   (824k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m4-3-Procurement   (1106k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m4-4-Commitments   (1125k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m4-5-Communications   (892k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m4-6-Incentives   (836k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m4-7-Waste-Minimisation-Clubs   (883k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m4-8-Other-Business-Support   (1069k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m5-0-Sectors   (670k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m5-1-Construction   (1103k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m5-2-Food-and-Drink   (1100k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m5-3-Hospitality   (1102k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m5-4-Retail   (1145k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m5-5-Automotive   (1025k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m5-6-Office-Based-Services   (910k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m6-Hazard-Reduction   (801k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L2-m7-Metrics   (834k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L3-m1-Self-Motivation   (691k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L3-m2-Reuse-and-Material-Use-Efficiency   (616k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L4-m1-Review-Database   (1515k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L4-m2-Case-Studies   (1113k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L4-m3-Historic-Review   (629k)
• ANX - Annex : WR1403-L4-m4-Critical-Review   (973k)
• EXE - Executive Summary : WR1403-L1-m0-Executive-Summary   (669k)
• SUP - Supplementary Report : WR1403-L1-m2-Report-Index   (250k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2010

To: 2012

Cost: £202,901
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Oakdene Hollins
Behaviour change              
Decoupling waste growth for consumption              
Environmental Protection              
Waste Management