Mapping of existing evidence on business waste prevention

Client:
Defra
Start date:
September 2010
Completed:
March 2011

Objectives
The overall aim of this project was to map the existing evidence base related to business waste prevention. Detailed objectives covered in the mapping exercise included:

  1. Research and demonstration projects on both ‘cleaner production’ and on waste minimisation.
  2. 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.
  3. Evidence on business attitudes and behaviours on waste prevention and resource efficiency and what drives behaviour change among businesses – focusing on evidence, e.g. what works and does not work, as well as effectiveness, rather than simply describing previous and on-going support programmes and communication campaigns. A particular policy interest is on SMEs.
  4. Evidence related to voluntary measures, support activities and cross supply chain working as waste prevention measures.
  5. 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.
  6. Evidence related to waste prevention in six specific commercial and industrial sectors, including food & drink and construction & demolition.
  7. Compilation of a selection of case studies from previous work, to demonstrate waste prevention in practice across a range of business types and sector, accompanied by an independent assessment of effectiveness.
  8. How business waste prevention has been measured in previous work. A separate study focused on developing recommendations on how to measure waste prevention more generally – the scope here was focused on documenting and mapping previous work, and commenting on the scope and effectiveness of those measurement methods.

Methodology
This was a scoping study to help Defra policy personnel focus on what evidence is needed, by examining what already exists and identifying priority gaps that need to be filled by subsequent studies. The mapping included:

  • UK evidence and international evidence that is relevant to waste prevention in England;
  • recent and more historical work – so that evidence gathered in the 1990s or even earlier is not lost; and
  • evidence presented in peer reviewed papers, in the grey literature and in industry data.

The research involved working closely with a range of stakeholder groups, to ensure that the map of the evidence base was both reasonably complete and accurate – i.e. that no major areas have been omitted and that no major evidence sources have been overlooked.

A previous Defra project by Brook Lyndhurst, WR1204 published in October 2009, reviewed the available evidence on household waste prevention and received an internal Defra award for ‘excellence in the communication of science/engineering to policy makers’. The output from the current project was presented in a similar modular reporting style to assist the transfer of knowledge and evidence into the policy context, and is available here.

Brook Lyndhurst and the Resource Recovery Forum are supporting the lead contractor, Oakdene Hollins, for this research.

The summary reports are free to download using the links in the centre column. The full set reports are available from the Defra Science and Research pages, click here to read them.

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