Legislation & Policy

There are a number of policies and laws passed down to local authorities by Central Government and the EU that direct how councils manage waste.

The EU Waste Framework Directive sets a legal requirement for the UK to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020. Earlier this year further targets for recycling of 55% by 2025 and 60% by 2030 were introduced. While we may be leaving the EU, our Government has indicated that these targets will remain.

The Directive ranks how we should deal with waste. The best solution being preventing waste in the first place followed by reuse, then recycling, energy recovery and disposal as a last resort.

Waste Hierarchy.png






for reuse


Waste Plastic

Plastic has an important role to play in products and packaging. However, the recent Blue Planet II series highlighted the problems caused when plastic waste is not properly disposed of. 

Until recently, a significant portion of UK plastics were sent to China, but the poor quality of the material led to China announcing a ban on imports of plastic waste in January 2018. This has meant the UK recycling industry has had to find other countries that are able to take this waste for recycling.


In July 2018, the National Audit Office – the public spending watchdog – published a report that highlighted the risk that some plastics waste sold for recycling abroad is not recycled under equivalent standards to the UK, and is instead sent to landfill or contributes to pollution.


We have a responsibility as a Council and Swindon community to reduce our use of plastics where possible and to make sure our plastic waste is either recycled correctly or disposed of in a responsible way.

Population and housing growth in Swindon


We currently collect waste from 97,000 households and it is anticipated that 22,000 new houses will be built over the next ten years. That means the amount of waste we need to manage will continue to grow and the way we collect waste will need to change to cope.


Living within the Council’s financial means


During the last decade the areas where the Council spends its money have changed dramatically as our Central Government funding has dropped, while demand for our statutory children’s and adult's services has increased significantly. In 2018/19, 80% of the Council’s total budget will be spent on supporting vulnerable adults and children, including public health. That compares with 48% ten years ago. The Council has to save a further £30m before 2020 to make sure the budget stays balanced.