A National Resources Council should be set up to protect resource supply and co-ordinate “disjointed” Government waste policy, according to the Circular Economy Task Force.
The cross-sector group, which is supported by the Green Alliance thinktank and includes Veolia, Viridor, the Resource Association (RA) and WRAP, warned that the UK is lagging behind other major economies in terms of improving resource security and productivity.
It argued that a lack of Government overview has resulted in Whitehall departments pulling in different directions. As an example, it says the Department for Communities and Local Government’s support for weekly rubbish collections is undermining Defra’s efforts to hit the 50% recycling target by 2020.
The report considers possible solutions to improve co-ordination, including an Office of Resource Management or a Department for Natural Resources.
But it concludes that a new resources council, modelled on the National Security Council, would be best, starting with a major review of resource risks to the UK.
Challenges identified include resource price volatility and growing global competition for resources.
Report author Jonny Hazell said that calls for political action were growing.
“The next Government must address the business and environmental risks of its outdated resource policy. Political will has to be matched by effective governance capacity, and a new institution for resources within central Government will signal that resource security is a political and economic priority for the UK.”
Ray Georgeson, RA chief executive, called the report a “crucial contribution”.
“Disjointed and sometimes contradictory approaches to waste and resources from different Government departments create confusion and uncertainty for local authorities, resource management companies and investors alike,” he said. “Maintenance of the status quo is an unpalatable option.”
There is growing support for the creation of a dedicated resource management office, as laid out in a manifesto launched by the Institute for Civil Enginieers earlier this year and another recently by the manufacturer’s organisation EEF.