Whoever wins the election must slash the amount of time and money needed to secure waste contracts from councils, a key figure has warned.
Environmental Services Association chief executive Dirk Hazell insisted vital investors were being put off by the UK's nightmare procurement system.
"Tendering for a local authority contract can take years and cost millions of pounds," he said.
Hazell said: "Transforming the way the UK manages its waste will require substantial investment.
"Very soon after the election, much more needs to be done to secure the necessary funding and investment."
Firms won't invest in treatment facilities unless they have signed contracts to collect waste for councils.
The more lucrative of these contracts are supported by millions of pounds of Government money through private finance initiatives (PFIs). But bidding for PFI contracts can be a major hassle.
Hazell added: "A simpler PFI process, recognising and allocating risk efficiently, and incentivising private sector operators to innovate and deliver high standards of waste management, would be a welcome step forward.
"The waste management industry represents a potential investment opportunity worth billions.
"However the costs and time associated with tendering for contracts can represent a major disincentive to potential bidders.
"We share with local authorities an interest in simplifying the tendering process."
MRW is running an Improving Contract Procurement in Waste conference in London on April 28. See www.wastecontracts.co.uk.