The UK economy could support 40 additional closed loop plastics facilities, a think tank has said in a pamphlet on resource efficiency policy proposals.
The Green Alliance said the Government should address resource productivity, as this would reduce waste and make the UK more competitive.
In the latest of a series of political pamphlets, ‘Green Conservatism. Better resource productivity for a resilient economy’, puts forward proposals that could fit a right-wing political agenda.
The Green Alliance said the work was “not the product of any political party” but it was produced in consultation with its Green Conservatism advisory group, with contributions from conservative MPs active on environmental issues, such Laura Sandys, Tim Yeo and Greg Barker.
The pamphlet said that the UK needs better systems for the recovery of resources as the current ones cannot guarantee a steady flow of materials from consumers to reprocessors.
“Current UK recycling systems are blocking market demand for materials, preventing it from stimulating the building of new reprocessing infrastructure, because the reprocessors cannot secure supplies of recyclable materials from local authorities,” it said
For example, the UK has only five closed loop processing facility for plastics, but could support as many as 45 if there was more uniformity in plastics collection methods, the Green Alliance noted.
“This is not because UK councils are unable to co-operate,” it says. “Instead, ‘bin localism’ reflects a lack of genuine localism. Because councils have not had the power to set local economic priorities, and have found their control of planning highly contested, they have focused on a highly visible differentiator: bin colour.”
The organisation also recommended the Government adopt regulations that promote reuse over recycling, especially of electronic equipment.
It argued that the UK’s implementation of the WEEE directive is “overcomplicated” and “perversely rewards lower value recycling”.
“A smarter solution would be to redesign regulation to reward good outcomes, such as the high value reuse being delivered by the private sector,” it said.
“Reform would require legislators and regulators to understand when the market is delivering these good outcomes, and only to regulate heavily when market incentives undermine greater resource productivity.”
Other proposals included in the document are the creation of a commission on resource efficiency that could monitor resource risks, oversee policy activity and increase government support for start-ups working on new technologies.