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Industrial strategy commits UK to circular economy

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The Government’s industrial strategy has included a pledge to set up a “regenerative circular economy”, as the Environmental Services Association (ESA) says it is negotiating a sector deal with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis).

2000 greg clark

2000 greg clark

The strategy, launched by business secretary Greg Clark (pictured), said achieving clean growth in the economy was one of four “grand challenges”.

A series of deals with UK sectors, where the Government and industry collaborate to increase productivity, are also to be launched. ESA chair Stewart Davies said talks were underway for a deal for resource productivity and that a sector deal working group had been set up with Beis.

The industrial strategy said the resources and waste strategy, which is to be published next year, will look at boosting the market for secondary materials.

It also set a target of a 20% per capita reduction in food waste through working with the Courtauld Commitment, and reiterated a pledge to achieve “zero avoidable waste” by 2050.

“We are committed to moving towards a more circular economy – to raising productivity by using resources more efficiently, to increasing resilience by contributing to a healthier environment, and to supporting long-term growth by regenerating our natural capital.”

Industrial Strategy, Beis.

Other pledges include examining options on WEEE tracking and to “improve the efficiency of enforcement”.

Speaking at the annual ESA lunch in London on 24 November, Davies said: “We have been finding our way into the Beis to make the case for the sector and engage proactively with the industrial strategy as it is formulated, funded and rolled out.

“We have participated in discussions at ministerial level in Beis, and advised that all sector deals should have reference to resource efficiency and productivity.

“The very latest Beis feedback is that it is interested in the proposed sector deal and what we can do if supported by stronger end markets for secondary resources. We are now pursuing this with the chemicals sector.

“If successful, this will have our sector recognised by Beis as well as Defra as willing and able to play a proactive role in shaping the UK’s industrial strategy to add more value and further reduce environmental impact through innovation and investment.”

The industrial strategy follows hot on the heels of the clean growth strategy (CGS), launched in October.

But unlike the CGS, the industrial strategy will be monitored by an independent body to hold the Government to account and chart progress.

It is also being backed by a £725m fund for innovations along with an increase in research and development investment.

In addition, it outlined plans to oversee £20bn of investment in “innovative and high potential businesses”, including through establishing a new £2.5bn investment fund within the British Business Bank.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Not sure why this article is accompanied by a photograph of a waste incinerator. Waste incineration has no place in the circular economy. The Ellen MacArthur diagram included on page 150 of the Industrial Strategy shows incineration and landfill as leakages from the circular economy. Unless the photo is meant to illustrate that we cannot expect any further new waste incineration capacity... This would be consistent with the Strategy's central message that "A linear ‘take, make, dispose’ economy risks eroding the natural capital central to its long-term growth through resource depletion and environmental pollution", and the Strategy's emphasis on resource productivity. Shame we do not yet have wider access to the "From Waste to Resource Productivity" report yet...

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  • To be honest, Shlomo, it was a good photo showing an example of waste infrastructure... Wherever the strategy takes us, there are likely to be more of similar technology, particularly merchant plants with heat off-take.

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