The resource minister has reiterated Defra’s commitment to the circular economy after a parliamentary committee criticised a lack of Government direction on resource efficiency.
According to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) the UK needs a strategic plan to support the transition to a circular economy and suggested a series of policy and fiscal measures.
Resource minister Dan Rogerson, who gave evidence to the committee during its inquiry, responded that Defra had invested £17m to encourage businesses to become more resource efficient.
“We are fully committed to building a circular economy and want to see the UK leading the way in new waste and recycling markets.”
He added that Defra will work with local authorities, industry and the voluntary sector to consider how to take the EAC’s recommendations forward.
Defra will issue a formal response to the committee’s report in “due course”.
However, industry associations and business figures welcomed the findings of the EAC’s inquiry and supported the call for further Government intervention.
“[The EAC] has correctly identified several key policy measures that would assist, as well as noting the urgent need for a clearer vision, strategy and consistent leadership from Government as missing ingredients,” said Ray Georgeson, chief executive at the Resource Association.
“Industry will respond to clear policy signals and leadership from Government and we hope that the EAC report is well read by politicians in their pre-General Election policy preparation,” Georgeson added.
Steve Lee, chief executive at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), said the call for more Government intervention echoed the concerns the association had put forward during the inquiry.
“CIWM was critical of Government in terms of the under-resourcing of key departments, especially Defra, and a lack of co-ordination between departments, a total withdrawal from policy and intervention on commercial and industrial wastes, as well as reduced funding for agencies such as WRAP,” he said.
Aleyn Smith-Gillespie, head of business model innovation at the Carbon Trust, said that “stronger signals were needed” to encourage companies to take action to adopt more circular models.
“The ideas put forward by the EAC are welcome as businesses need the right incentives from Government, as well as being made to take greater responsibility for the long-term impact of their products and services,” he added.
Nick Brown, associate director for recycling in GB at Coca Cola Enterprises, noted the committee’s call for more standardised waste collection systems across England.
“Consumers have told us that the myriad and complexity of local authority schemes is a major barrier to success in householders recycling more often and the committee’s findings reiterate this,” he said.
“Central Government needs to play a more active role in facilitating a coordinated approach - we need a joined-up approach from individual Government departments to work with local authorities and the business community to develop workable solutions.”