The trade body of UK manufacturers has urged the Government to look beyond recycling and draft a comprehensive industrial strategy to tackle the growing risk of resource scarcity.
In a report, Materials for Manufacturing, Safeguarding Supply, the EEF wants more focus on building a more resilient economy in light of increasing materials prices and declining security of supply, which it said were a “threat to growth”.
“There has been a tendency in the UK debate to suggest recycling is a panacea,” said the EEF. “But the solutions are likely to be more complex than that. A more holistic approach is needed.”
UK policy so far has been “piecemeal and short-lived”, without any vision or programme to drive resource efficiency. A “growing buzz” around circular economy business models had yet to translate into policy responses, the EEF noted.
It said the UK should look at the examples offered by its “manufacturing competitors”, such as China, the US, Germany, Japan and South Korea, which have put in place solid policy frameworks to mitigate the risk associated with resource scarcity.
Such strategies address waste recovery, information shortfalls, directing investment in innovation and diplomatic efforts.
The EEF put forward a series of recommendations, which echoed the proposals listed in a recent report by the Institution of Civil Engineers.
- setting up an Office of Resource Management within BIS to coordinate a cross-department strategy on resource efficienc
- collecting better data on recyclables and residual waste
- extending tax breaks to encourage investment in capital equipment for resource-efficient plants and machinery
- exploring the use of tax incentives for the use of secondary materials
- developing a nationwide code for local authorities on waste collection to help manufacturers design for recyclability
The EEF also indicated that the responsibility for policy relating to the economic opportunities from waste should be move to BIS, with Defra retaining powers over regulation and enforcement.
While a lack of political leadership was a reason of concern for manufacturers, it also constituted an opportunity for the UK to develop new infrastructure to extract value from waste and increase resource efficiency.
The value of the UK remanufacturing sector has the potential to double to £5.6bn, said EEF.