The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has issued a four-point package of proposals to boost the resource and waste management industry, and thereby the wider economy.
Its recommendations cover the sustainability of markets for secondary materials, producer responsibility, collection regimes and waste crime.
Executive director Jacob Hayler said the sector had much to celebrate, with the household recycling rate rising from almost zero in the early 1990s to around 45% today, although it remains below the UK target for 2020. Energy recovery provides 12% of the UK’s renewable electricity while ESA members delivered growth for the Exchequer and thousands of jobs.
“However, rising costs and depressed commodity markets are putting immense pressure on the sector, and urgent Government intervention is required to ensure the UK can continue to manage its resources in both an environmentally and economically sustainable way,” he said.
The report, Delivering Sustainable Growth: How the Resource and Waste Management Industry Benefits People, the Environment and the Economy, was launched at a parliamentary reception in Westminster.
It makes four recommendations to improve incentives along the supply chain, drive efficiency, lower costs and deliver private investment:
- More resilient markets for waste-derived products. Stimulating demand for recycled content would ensure that recycling remains economic.
- A new framework for producer responsibility which transfers resource ownership from local authorities to product supply chains. This would help to produce secondary materials of consistent quality which would drive resource efficiency, strengthen competitiveness, stimulate long-term investment and would make the system resilient to market changes.
- Improved waste collection systems and infrastructure. A more joined-up approach would increase economies of scale and yield an overall reduction in system costs.
- Drive out waste crime. Without unscrupulous operators, compliant businesses will be able to thrive.
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, who chaired the launch event, said: “The UK’s resource and waste management industry has embraced the concept of the circular economy and led the way in promoting sustainable management of resources.
”This report rightly celebrates its successes of driving up recycling rates, generating renewable energy and diverting waste from landfill, while providing jobs and growth for the nation.”