Keywords: municipal waste, landfill allowance trading, landfill tax, recycling targets, incineration, solid waste, policy, England
Innovation in municipal solid waste management in England: policy, practice and sustainability
This paper identifies influences on the design of the innovative statutory framework now driving change in waste management practice in England. The framework employs a mix of policy instruments, including a landfill allowance-trading scheme that is the first-ever economy-wide permit trading scheme and mandatory recycling targets. Despite intensive stakeholder scrutiny of the framework, concerns remain over its design: the scope for mutual interference among policy instruments, the allocations of permits and targets, the procedures used for rewarding performance, imbalance in the treatment of landfill and incineration and ambiguity over the role of incineration. The new arrangements increase financial risk. Their complexity could lead to expensive management errors. This paper highlights these concerns, explores possible implications for the sustainability of waste management practice and suggests possible policy modifications. More generally, the paper points to practical difficulties of policy-led sustainability-oriented innovation in the complex context of multilevel governance structures and processes.