6.5 Territorial authority waste management plans

Local government: Results of the 2005/06 audits.

Territorial authorities1 have an important role in managing waste. The Local Government Act 1974 required all territorial authorities to formally adopt a waste management plan to provide for waste management in the district.

In May 2007, we published a report2 of a performance audit that looked at territorial authority waste management plans and practices. The audit examined:

  • whether all territorial authorities had adopted a waste management plan and how the plan provided for the management of solid waste in the district;
  • how six selected territorial authorities were implementing their waste management plans; and
  • three case studies, looking at particular approaches to managing solid waste.

We found that, although all territorial authorities had prepared waste management plans, some of the plans were out of date or did not contain all the information we expected. We are concerned the plans would not be useful in guiding local authority decisions about waste management.

The six territorial authorities we reviewed in detail were progressively implementing their plans. Several of them had improved their plans and practices through self-review and by updating their plans.

The waste management methods these six territorial authorities had implemented favoured waste diversion and waste disposal activities, rather than waste reduction.

The three case studies highlight the need for territorial authorities to carefully evaluate the requirements and the implications of pursuing particular waste management practices before implementing them. Most of the territorial authorities we looked at had done this.

As part of the performance audit, we prepared guidance for territorial authorities preparing waste management plans and considering some specific waste management practices. We have included this guidance in our report.

1: Territorial authorities are city and district councils – they do not include regional councils.

2: Waste management planning by local authorities, ISBN 0-478-18175-2.

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