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Conservative group says new reprocessing sector could make £5bn a year

A group of Conservative MPs has recommended UK waste policies be revamped in order to boost the country’s economy.

In the report, Sweating our Assets, members of a commission set up by the 2020 Conservatives strategy group and chaired by Laura Sandys MP argued that Government needs to focus on the profitability of resources by creating a new business sector under the banner ‘Remade in Britain’.

This would include businesses that improve resource productivity through remanufacturing, reprocessing or re-engineering.

The report said this sector could grow to return some £5bn per year in profits.

“The UK has a long way to go to match our most efficient competitors – Japan, Germany and China,” the report said.

Sandys said: “In the 20th century we focused strongly on labour productivity. In the 21st century we should be doing the same on the next great challenge: resource productivity.”

The measures proposed include:

  • Move waste responsibilities from Defra to BIS
  • Offer council tax rebates to the residents of local authorities that resell their waste effectively
  • Introduce landfill bans on plastics, wood, textile and food

The group encouraged more co-ordinated government support and action to improve resource productivity. This is in contrast with Defra current’s stance of doing “what only the Government can do”, as waste minister Dan Rogerson set out in his first letter to the industry.

Sandys had already made the case for a shift of waste responsibilities to BIS at the launch of a “practical guide” to the circular economy produced by LRS consultancy and Burges Salmon.

The Conservative 2020’s recommendations followed a report published by the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group in November 2013, which argued the UK was not capitalising on domestic waste and export markets.

Matthew Farrow, director of the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), said: “The ‘circular economy’ is a real business opportunity but needs clear policy to enable it. 

“The focus on total factor productivity rather than labour productivity is spot on, though employment creation is also a key metric as we must avoid a high productivity/low employment economy.”

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