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Defra urged to build on 'catalyst' report

The Resource Association (RA) has welcomed Defra’s recent analysis on the value of the waste sector, but has called for more research into the potential benefits of reprocessing domestically more of the materials that are currently exported.

The RA also wants Defra to refocus the resources it makes available to WRAP back to the unfinished task of recycling market development, and renewed a demand for greater UK engagement with EU policy.

The report, Resource Management: a catalyst for growth and productivity , was published on 5 February. It showed that, in the past two decades, the gross value added (GVA) of the waste and resource management sector had grown at a faster rate than the wider economy. The report noted that the core waste sector generated £6.8bn and supported 103,000 jobs in the UK in 2013.

However, it indicated that the industry had not fully recovered from the significant drop at the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008.

Resource minister Dan Rogerson issued a letter with the report saying Defra intended to work with industry trade bodies to raise awareness of global export opportunities, as well as identifying the potential of emerging technologies and further market growth in the UK.

Ray Georgeson, RA chief executive, welcomed the report, saying it would remind the Government of the industry’s value, but he felt it understated the potential for growth. 

“Reprocessor-added value to raw material input in the manufacture and onward sale of new recycled products can be at least five-fold [that of] the input cost of recovered material. If even a quarter of the £4.35bn-worth of materials exported in 2013 were to be re-shored in UK manufacturing, this could add at least £5bn to UK GDP and significantly improve the already positive figures for GVA/tonne.

“We call on Defra to consider further research in this area as part of the forward programme following this important report.”

We hope it may become an annual feature of the Defra programme

RA chairman Peter Clayson

Georgeson said it was essential the UK engaged with the European Commission on waste, resources and the circular economy and its promise of ‘more ambitious’ measures.

“We should take the opportunity presented to come at this with an ‘all options are possible’ approach – not just to recycling targets but to the whole package of potential around product standards and eco-design, common definitions and reporting and fiscal instruments – and ensure that we are serious about the role for reuse, repair and remanufacturing,” he said. “In Europe we must lead and shape, not be on the sidelines.”

But he also called on Defra to refocus the resources it makes available to WRAP. 

“As a starting point, fresh research should be undertaken to establish a new baseline for where the potential for manufacturing growth may lie, the barriers to success and a new route map for the R&D, standards work, product testing, feedstock quality sourcing and other work that will be needed to deliver more manufacturing capacity.”

RA chairman Peter Clayson added: “The report is a great foundation for action, and we hope that it may become an annual feature of the Defra programme and turn into a ‘state of the industry’ exercise that continues to catalyse and move us towards a more circular economy.”

More reaction as reported by MRW here


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