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BIS to show the way on biowaste

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will produce a strategy on biowaste by spring 2015, but there are no plans for it to take over waste policy, an official has confirmed.

Speaking at RWM, Stuart Edwards, deputy director for advanced manufacturing and services directorate at BIS, said the department is working on a ‘road map’ to boost the UK bioeconomy, which is expected to be published early next year.

The initiative follows the recommendations of an inquiry carried out by a House of Lords select committee earlier this year, which concluded developing a waste-based bioeconomy could be a £100bn opportunity.

BIS is joining forces with other departments, the academic and research world, industry and the chemical sector to draft the strategy, according to Edwards.

“Frankly we don’t have the expertise, but we are pulling it together,” he said.

“We are working with the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum to develop a long-term plan and to co-ordinate with [our] industry growth strategy. We also need to work very closely with other departments, and in partnership with the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board, now Innovate UK.”

BIS has also appointed a minister as a “waste champion” to oversee policy work, which was another of the Lords’ recommendations. Matt Hancock took on the role after replacing Michael Fallon as energy minister in the latest Government reshuffle.

As BIS takes the leadership in the biowaste sector, there have been calls for it to acquire overall waste responsibilities. Some industry members and politicians say this will help increase the perception of waste as a resource rather than a liability.

However, Edwards said there are no plans for BIS to take over waste policy.

“Defra leads on waste. What we are looking to do is to work more closely with Defra and try to make the connections in terms of the bits of the economy we have responsibilities for. It’s very much working in partnership.”​

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