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RWM 'ambassadors' set out path to circular economy

Suggestions for driving the UK towards a circular economy have been published in a report drawn up by leading figures in the waste sector and outside.

‘Ever Decreasing Circles - Closing In On The Circular Economy’ was compiled after a series of discussions this summer involving a panel of two dozen ‘ambassadors’ brought together by the organisers of the RWM with CIWM show.

The report addresses key questions, and possible solutions, to stimulate behaviour change across the supply chain and how to engage those involved in recycling, in terms of the supply chain, consumers, and local authorities. 

It also considers how waste producers can maximise resource efficiency and be encouraged to take greater responsibility for their products. 

One ambassador, Lee Marshall, chief executive of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, said: “Whilst the concept of producer responsibility has been established for a while the actual application of it is still not quite there in the UK.

“It is often the case that local authorities and the consumer end up with the responsibility, which works against the ‘polluter pays’ principle behind producer responsibility. A more rational approach could see producers fully fund schemes to ensure that management of products is in line with Circular Economy principles.” 

Sarah Porter, divisional director for RWM organisers i2i, said: “This report is unashamedly controversial and is designed to stimulate minds and provoke debate; it provides possible solutions but not definitive answers.”

Marshall and fellow ambassadors Margaret Bates (University of Northampton), Steve Lee (CIWM), Paul Vanston (Kent Resource Partnership) and John Twitchen, (Copper Consultancy) will take part in a panel debate on the Circular Economy Connect stage on 18 September from 12.45 to 13.30.

  • The Ambassadors will also announce the recipients of the Ambassadors’ Fund at RWM (£15,000 each year for 2014 and 2015), which is intended to support the sector in developing new resource efficiency initiatives. 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Incineration has no part to play in a genuinely closed-loop circular zero waste economy, so it is worth noting that the report is less than enthusiastic about incineration.

    For example:

    Page 7: "Energy recovery" treated as a "leakage to be minimised" in the context of the circular economy.

    Page 9: "To provide the right framework to underpin future progress [towards a circular economy], it will be essential for policy makers to have a better understanding of how these incentives interact.

    A thorough review could include, for example, consideration of the potential for: ...2) taxing ash residues from incineration at the standard rate of tax, partly as means to stimulate extraction of precious metals from ash; ...

    3) introducing taxes on incineration and MBT, with a view to further incentivising movement of waste up the hierarchy. [such a tax might also be applied to
    waste which is prepared for export for incineration, with imports being exempt ]; ..."

    Page 20: "As it is now in Scotland and proposed in Northern Ireland, the separate collection of food waste could be made mandatory for both households and for all businesses producing an amount of food waste above a specific threshold"

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