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Tories and Labour united on remanufacturing push

A report highlighting the potential economic boost to the UK by expanding remanufacturing capacity has met with support across the political spectrum.

The remanufacturing sector could be worth as much as £5.6bn if barriers to its development, such as an outdated legal definition of waste, were removed, the All Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group suggested in a recent report.

At the report launch, Iain Wright, Labour MP and shadow minister for competitiveness and enterprise (above, standing), and Laura Sandys, Conservative MP and chair of the Conservative 2020 group (above, left), praised the document for highlighting the importance of remanufacturing for the UK economy.

“Remanufacturing has a real role to play,” said Wright. “This report moves the agenda forward and provides practical steps for policy makers.”

He suggested improving the collaboration along the supply chain could be one of those steps. It would not only increase efficiency, but also boost the competitiveness of ‘UK plc’, he argued.

Sandys also mentioned the importance of establishing new relationships along the materials supply chain as a way to enhance competitiveness and technological developments.

“The circular economy is not about moving products in a circle,” she said. “It’s about new relations. I think through these new business relationships we will get new innovation.”

Both MPs expressed a will to engage with the opposite political party to tackle the barriers to the development of the remanufacturing sector. They singled out the need for waste items intended for remanufacturing to be exempt from waste rules.

“I worry that some regulations, in particular the definition of waste, do not allow the potential of remanufacturing to come to fruition,” said Wright.

“We need to alter that. I’m keen to work in parliament with colleagues from the opposite side of the house [on that].”

However, Sandys reiterated that waste responsibilities should be transferred to BIS, as a recent report by the Conservative 2020 group had suggested, while Wright said remanufacturing should be part of a cross-department business policy, of which Defra would be a key partner.

“The challenge of any government, whatever political complexion, is to make sure that business policy is elicit and coherent, across Whitehall,” he said.

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