Household waste prevention evidence review

Start date:
October 2008
October 2009

A synthesis review to draw together findings from past research in order to provide an accurate and up-to-date picture of existing policy-relevant evidence about waste prevention and associated pro-environmental behaviour in the UK.

In 2009 Defra’s Waste and Resources Evidence Programme (WREP) was entering its fifth year of providing, interpreting, analysing and disseminating research and wider waste and resources evidence. In the early years, household waste prevention was highlighted as a particular area of focus because there was a significant gap in evidence to underpin policy making in this area.

Since that time, WREP has commissioned a comprehensive portfolio of research projects exploring household waste prevention and waste-related behaviour. The scope varied from understanding consumer behaviour in relation to household waste prevention, through evaluating how different initiatives work in practice, to the development of technical solutions. Most of these projects are now either complete or are in the course of completion. A list of these projects can be found at

This synthesis review was commissioned by Defra's WREP to draw together the findings from this research and those of related evidence work commissioned elsewhere in Defra, by WRAP, the Environment Agency and others. The key aim was to provide an accurate and up-to-date picture of existing policy-relevant evidence about waste prevention and associated pro-environmental behaviour in the UK. Brook Lyndhurst (lead contractor), Social Marketing Practice and the Resource Recovery Forum were commissioned to undertake this project.

The objectives of the research were:

  • To undertake a comprehensive literature review of existing evidence in order to provide an up to date picture of existing policy-relevant evidence on waste prevention in the UK;
  • To work closely with policy and a wide network of stakeholders to ensure expert input to the research, analysis and policy development process;
  • To undertake in-depth analysis of up to 50 sources of literature against a robust analytical framework; and
  • To provide a series of tailored, policy-relevant reports and briefings that synthesise existing evidence, the gaps, future priorities, the role of stakeholders and conclusions and recommendations.

The outputs from the review (see Defra website for full list of outputs) have been organised into a series of modules that allow for the evidence to be accessed at three different levels of detail, and different packages, depending on the interests of the reader. Before accessing individual documents generated by this review, the reader should first open the 'guide to reading the reports' document to gain an overview of the different modules and their titles. The structure is an acknowledgement that not all readers will be interested in all of the material. The intention is that users can drill down from the executive level reports (L1 m0 and L1 m1) to the particular detail of interest.

The level 2 modules, entitled 'Overview', are synthesis reports which cover different aspects of waste prevention and group the research under various topic headings. These level 2 modules are supported by level 3 documents; 'concise briefing notes' which provide short, technical briefs on specific topics, and 'detailed briefing notes' which offer more in-depth insight. An extensive bibliography is included in the document list (L3 m8/2) as a record of all the research accessed and reviewed in this study.

  • Techniques: Desk research

    From literature reviews to data gathering and statistical analysis, we are adept at assimilating and making sense of large volumes of complex information
  • Techniques: Reports and presentations

    Almost all our work culminates in some sort of written output and one or more presentations. We attach considerable importance to the quality of these deliverables...
  • Mapping of existing evidence on business waste prevention

    A scoping study to help Defra policy makers focus on gaps in evidence on business waste prevention, by examining what already exists and identifying priority areas that need to be filled by subsequent studies
  • Support for the design of a household waste prevention programme in Wales

    Waste prevention This study was commissioned to support the Welsh Government’s Waste Strategy Branch in the development of a waste prevention programme for household waste in Wales. The study was concerned with the two highest levels of the Waste Hierarchy – waste prevention (including reuse before items become waste) and preparing for reuse (after items become waste).

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