The recently-appointed resource management minister, Lord de Mauley, has said waste prevention is his ‘highest priority’.
Speaking at the WRAP annual conference, de Mauley encouraged the audience to “deliver growth while improving our environment”. He said: “If we can keep our economy’s resources higher in the waste hierarchy we can retain their economic value to the benefit of all in the UK.”
In what was his first speech on waste, the new minister promised to continue the work of Lord Taylor, his predecessor at Defra.
“Government needs to do what we can to help remove barriers, create markets and promote the growth we aspire to. I am particularly excited about the Waste Prevention Plan we will be developing over the course of the next year.
“There are many wonderful ways we can treat waste as a valuable resource, but never letting the stuff that forms our economy become waste in the first place is clearly the highest priority.”
De Mauley called for business to look for solutions to address products with a high environmental impact. He advocated business and Government pooling resources to “develop a shared view of which products’ environmental impacts are the most significant”.
He said: “It is satisfying to see ideas such as the Product Sustainability Forum gathering a head of steam. The forum provides a safe haven for businesses, Government and other bodies to gather and share information about the environmental performance of grocery and home improvement products.”
The minister also made the case for the resource industry exploiting global markets. “There are opportunities for organisations, here in the UK, to market skills and innovation globally; saving costs, gaining competitive advantage and helping us deliver sustainable growth.”
De Mauley praised WRAP’s work on improving the sustainability of plastic packaging. He said that on a visit to WRAP’s head office, he saw “smarter packaging that is such a visible product of the Courtauld Commitment and the recycled plastic milk bottles that have emerged from a closed-loop process”.
Referring to WRAP’s research into the issue of reprocessing black plastic packaging, he said: “WRAP’s work can help, by developing ‘detectable black’ plastic which, despite the name, is apparently a very dark shade of blue.”
He also praised WRAP’s ability to collaborate with business and create partnerships.