The waste and resources sector has been urged to make its voice heard in improved engagement with ministers in the new Government.
The call has come from Peter Gerstrom, chairman of the Environmental Services Association, in a review of the period since he took office in November 2014.
“The industry has been through a challenging period,” he said. “We’ve seen much volatility in the recycling markets which has led to some high-profile closures among reprocessors.”
Gerstrom told an ESA reception there was increased pressure on local government finances, triggering concerns about falling recyclate quality, while waste crime continued to blight the industry and undermine investment potential.
He also pointed out that the European Commission’s Circular Economy (CE) package was due later in the year and would affect the sector.
“The new Government has been in place for over two months now, and the waste and resources industry must step up its efforts to engage with it if we are to be heard. We need stability and a long-term framework – and its enforcement on the ground.
“After a recent lack of engagement, we now have a new Government and a minister, Rory Stewart, who shows dynamism and purpose to re-engage with us.
“Our industry has much to offer in terms of investment, growth, jobs, and skills, and it is encouraging to see that the new minister recognises this.”
On Friday, sector leaders met Stewart to discuss waste crime. Afterwards, Sam Corp, head of regulation at the ESA, said: “Waste crime remains a key priority, and we are pleased to be working closely with the Government to bring forward the right reforms to stamp out crime.”
At an All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group seminar on the CE package, Labour MP Barry Gardiner sent a similar message to Gerstrom’s to the industry.
He was responding to concerns from some stakeholders that greater public awareness of waste and recycling challenges was needed in order for the issue to be driven higher up the political agenda.
He told the attendees, including representatives of Viridor, Eunomia and WRAP, that they were “the public” and had themselves to lobby the Government to drive issues through.