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Manufacturers lead call for cross-Whitehall resource watchdog

Leading organisations in the manufacturing, infrastructure and environmental sectors have united to call for an Office for Resource Management (ORM) to give policy direction to ministers on resource security and efficiency.

The move comes in a paper from the Material Security Working Group (MSWG) which is headed by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.

The call will be launched at today’s (12 March) meeting of the All Party Sustainable Resource Group in Westminster, and follows concerns about escalating risks to the UK’s supply of essential raw materials.

MSWG, which also includes the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and Friends of the Earth, argues that an ORM would ensure a more structured, strategic and co-ordinated response to such risks.

The US, Germany, South Korea and Japan are among manufacturing nations that are already implementing such strategies.

Susanne Baker, senior policy adviser at EEF and chair of the MSWG, said the UK urgently needs a coherent, co-ordinated response.

“The current piecemeal approach is leaving us lagging behind our peers – we are under-prepared, over-exposed and vulnerable,” she said.

“Material supplies are crucial to the UK’s wealth and economic stability. At the same time there is growing awareness of the benefits of a circular economy – an ORM would ensure that the UK is able to take full advantage.”

Nigel Mattravers, chairman of ICE’s waste and resource panel, said that moving to a circular economy would require strategic leadership and co-ordination.

“[This] will be difficult to achieve with the current disjointed nature of waste management policy, split between a number of Government departments. An ORM should be established to entrench this sustainable ethos across all departments and promote resource management as a driver of economic growth. The next Government must take advantage of this opportunity.”

An ORM was a key recommendation made by the EEF in its Materials for Manufacturing: Safeguarding Supply report, published last year. The demand was also made in a ‘manifesto’ published by the EEF in February.

ICE has also published a manifesto arguing for a co-ordinating body, and an increasing number of waste companies, manufacturers and politicians have made similar demands for centralised resources management ahead of the general election.

  • An online poll of 400 members of the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment overwhelmingly supported the view that the Government is failing to provide coherent business guidance on improving resource efficiency.  The poll, conducted from 5-10 March returned 89% of the view that Government departments and agencies are not joined up in their delivery messages to help organisations improve the efficient use of resources. Not one respondent from the 400 polled stated that they believe the approach was “very well joined-up”.

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