Defra has recently released its new "Waste Prevention Programme for England – Towards a Resource Efficient Economy" and launched an accompanying consultation open until 10 June.

The new Waste Prevention Programme for England complements Defra’s Resources and Waste Strategy and focuses on the top of the waste hierarchy – waste prevention through increased reuse, repair and remanufacture. The aim of the Programme is to substantially reduce products becoming waste and to embed a circular economy approach.

Defra is minded to undertake a variety of regulatory work in the coming years, yet it is important to remember that any new policy proposed in this Programme will be subject to public consultation and impacts assessment prior to any legislation.

For retailers, the proposals in this Waste Prevention Programme could have significant cost and compliance implications. To alleviate these pressures, early awareness and engagement across the retail industry on these upcoming developments is important.


    • Defra will develop a new Extended Producer Responsibility for textiles and consult on in by the end of 2022.
    • To drive change in product design, Defra will introduce product requirements, starting with design requirements for selected non-energy related products – like textiles, furniture, which would be horizontal requirements e.g. relating to spare part provision, recycled content, durability, or potential to disassemble and repair or upgrade. For energy-related products, Defra and BEIS are expected to launch a new energy-related products policy framework in 2021 that will push for products to use energy and resources more efficiently.
    • Defra plans to reinforce consumer information requirements through consumer information schemes to enable a better identification of resource-efficient products and enable more sustainable purchases
    • Defra wants to ensure there is a well-functioning system of public, private organisations and services operating at the local level that facilitate reuse, repair, refill and remanufacture of products.
    • Defra will be looking into developing materials databases (electronic waste tracking system), product passports and encourage voluntary reporting. 

The Waste Prevention Programme focuses on seven key sectors: construction, textiles, furniture, electronics, vehicles, food and plastic packaging.

TEXTILES: Defra aims to address the negative environmental impacts of the textiles sector and fast fashion through through an integrated approach focusing on sustainable design, improved consumer information, new business models and better recycling whilst considering social, behavioural and technological aspects of the textiles industry.


  • Launch of Textiles 2030: a new industry voluntary agreement for 2021-2030 to place greater emphasis on reducing waste, aligning with global goals and shifting to a resource efficient textiles sector through cross-sector action
  • Defra to develop a proposal for EPR for textiles and consult on this by the end of 2022. The objective is to increase the reuse and recycling of textiles, reducing the amount of textiles going to landfill and incineration, and encourage sustainable design and material use.
  • Alongside EPR, Defra will also investigate other measures such as a landfill/incineration ban, separate textiles collection requirements, and the eco-design and information requirements referred to below to drive action higher up the waste hierarchy.
  • Minimum standards for textile products and introduction of requirements for improved labelling and consumer information focused on durability, reparability, recyclability, and recycled content as well as production impacts.
  • Defra to explore, through the EPR work, the need for and best means of enabling better textile waste collections, including how best to fund collections.
  • Defra to identify how best to support investment and innovation in the textiles reprocessing sector.

FURNITURE: Defra aims to address the negative environmental impacts of the furniture sector through more sustainable design, improved consumer information, enhanced collection, reuse, and repair services.


  • Defra to set minimum standards focused on durability, reparability and recyclability and recycled content of furniture, as well as requirements for improved labelling and consumer information to level the playing field.
  • Defra to develop a proposal for EPR for bulky waste (furniture and furnishings) and seek to consult on this by the end of 2025,

ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC PRODUCTS: Defra aims to increase levels of collection of Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment, increase reuse, repair and remanufacture of electronic and electrical products and develop options to design out waste using eco-design principles.


    • Introduction of new Ecodesign Regulations for industrial products, white goods and electronic displays included in this package later in 2021. This includes welding equipment, electric motors, household refrigeration, refrigeration with a direct sales function, household dishwashers, household washing-machines/washer-dryers, electronic displays and televisions.
    • Defra to review the WEEE Regulations in 2021. The areas within the scope of the review are: policies aimed at driving better eco-design of EEE, at encouraging more reuse of EEE, at increasing collections of consumer and business WEEE.

PACKAGING, PLASTICS AND SIGNLE-USE ITEMS: Defra aims to encourage the shift away from hard to recycle and single-use products, support research and innovation into more sustainable materials, reduce litter and plastic pollution, conserve material resources.


      • Defra to extend the charge on the use of single-use carrier bags to all retailers and increasing the minimum 5p charge to 10p from April 2021.
      • Building on the ban on the supply of plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers, Defra to consult on potential bans on other single-use plastic items.
      • Defra to explore whether new packaging EPR system could be designed to encourage prevention, reuse, recycling and reduced littering of packaging waste, including through modulated fees.
      • Defra to publish the outcome of the review of the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015 – which commenced in February 2021 and is expected to be completed later in 2021.

FOOD WASTE: Defra wishes to reduce food waste in the home and across the supply chain


    • Extension of Courtauld to 2030 to reduce food waste across the supply chain.
    • Defra to consult on the introduction of mandatory annual reporting of food waste by certain food businesses on an appropriate size
    • Note that Defra is minded to use producer responsibility obligations to food waste prevention and redistribution of food surplus could in future. However, this will only be considered if voluntary measures combined with annual reporting are sufficient to maintain progress – and will be subject to consultation.