Initial planning

Planning and estimating potential diversion

This section describes two basic steps that should be completed by a local authority in the initial stages of planning a waste prevention programme. It is important to understand the nature of the waste collected before an estimation of the impact of specific waste prevention activities is made.

Key points

  • Use waste prevention diversion estimates to establish the main waste streams by tonnage in your area that you can influence.
  • Use WRAP’s ‘ready reckoner’ Waste Prevention Calculator to make initial estimates. 
  • Use of local data will give you a better estimate.
  • Predicting diversions and savings is not an exact science – unknown and / or uncontrollable factors will influence the final outcome.

Initial planning with waste composition data

The starting point is understanding the nature of the waste collected and the elements that can be influenced by waste prevention activity.

Ideally you should use compositional data specific to your area to determine where to focus your effort. 

For the purposes of the Household Waste Prevention Hub, the typical composition of local authority collected waste is highlighted in the figure contained in Chapter 4 of Defra’s Waste and Resource Statistics 2015.

Composition of local authority collected waste, England 2010/11

The figure shows that food, garden waste and paper form a large part of the waste stream. 23 million tonnes of household waste were collected in 2010/11.

Potential diversion

The next step is to examine the impact of specific waste prevention activities that can be applied to your key waste streams and determine the amount of diversion that could be achieved. 

For illustrative purposes the diversion tonnage is presented for an example authority with the following characteristics:

  • 100,000 households
  • 230,000 residents.
  • 98,000 tonnes of household waste of which 3,000 tonnes is bulky waste.
  • 110,000 tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW).
  • 5,000 babies are born each year.

The table below indicates the estimated potential diversion for the example authority based on the example scenario given above. This shows that bulky waste re-use and reducing food waste have the potential to divert the most tonnage. This is likely to be true for your area but you should work out the tonnage using the assumptions and apply them to your own data. You can use the ready reckoner to do this:

Waste Prevention Calculator 2012


Likely kgs

Likely impact

Tonnes per year

Furniture re-use


30% of bulky waste


LFHW** (in-depth one-to-one engagement)

17-34 kg/household/year

10-20% reduction in food waste in target area*


LFHW (campaign without one-to-one engagement)

43-85 kg/participating household/year

25-50% reduction in food waste from households who have taken action as a result of campaign (2.5-10% total households)


Real nappies


250 babies


Action against unwanted mail


20% households





1,346-2,260 (1-2% of total household waste)

*Target area population assumed to be 10,000 = 10% of total population. 

**Love Food Hate Waste

It is important to note that this potential tonnage diversion is sustained for a period of time, not indefinitely. You will need to ensure that you plan a campaign that encourages residents to continue carrying out the waste prevention activities.

The limitations of this approach are:

  • Data is merely illustrative. Many factors will affect the outcomes in each case. 
  • For some activities you may wish to consider, there is currently no or limited data to establish a likely diversion. This hub provides guidance on monitoring and evaluation which may help you make predictions.