A cross-Government strategy and a unified approach from waste industry are essential if the UK is to fully capitalise on both domestic and export markets, ministers have been told.
The call follows an inquiry by the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) which has concluded that poor quality waste supply restricts UK exports as well as potentially holding back investment in domestic infrastructure.
It was chaired by former environment secretary Caroline Spelman, left, who said: “The topic of waste exports is incredibly diverse, and one which merits detailed, cross-departmental consideration from Government, and united, forward-thinking drive from the industry itself.”
A report from the inquiry, published on Thursday, said: “The UK is increasingly collecting more recyclable material than can be processed domestically, with the gap predominantly being filled by exports.”
It argued the UK needed to “harness the inherent energy value” of refuse-derived fuel currently being sent to other EU countries. But it warned that current data on construction and industrial (C&I) waste was inadequate, and said “solid, reliable data” was needed as growth in energy recovery relies on the C&I waste stream.
It recommended the waste industry be given financial breaks to increase infrastructure capacity and called on the Green Investment Bank to look at barriers to investments.
The report also called for “urgent reform” of the PRN/PERN system.
It concluded some materials were being exported because it was made cheaper by the packaging export recovery note (PERN) system, which is based on the weight of a consignment. Local PRNs are based on the amount of usable material.
It also suggested a reduction in the cost of producers’ packaging obligation, proportionate to the amount of recycled material used in the products they place on the market.
The inquiry found “widespread concern over the enforcement” of Waste Shipments Regulations, with many respondents saying illegal activities of ‘the few’ are causing reputational damage to industry.
Resource minister Dan Rogerson MP is to attend an event at Parliament to mark report’s formal launch on 4 December.
The APSRG report was sponsored by the British Metals Recycling Association, Closed Loop Recycling, DS Smith Recycling and SITA UK.
The APSRG is to undertake further research into WEEE exports. There has been wider concern in the media about illegal toxic e-waste dumping, notably in Ghana.
Margaret Bates, professor of sustainable wastes management at the University of Northampton, has recently visited the notorious Agbogbloshie dump and told MRW: “We are all shocked by the pictures and stories of e-waste burning and other dangerous e-waste practices in developing countries. However it is now time to focus on the e-waste solution rather than diverting all the resources to reinvestigating the problem. The problem is not with the origin of the electrical and electronic equipment, the problem is the lack of infrastructure, effective policy and awareness in developing countries.”
More at MRW.co.uk/8655956.article