The reshaping of British politics and public policy continues apace, and we are all getting used to the new prime minister’s mantra ”Brexit means Brexit”.
We can all have fun with the motto if we choose to, but the uncharted territory the UK is heading for still imposes a duty on our industry to engage constructively and ensure that our concerns are articulated with evidence, while any opportunities we may identify are genuine.
These concerns will include the UK’s future relationship with the EU single market, the maintenance of environmental protection standards and waste exports legislation.
We also need a framework that supports high-quality recycling as part of a continuing positive journey towards a more circular economy (CE), which has to include further action to reduce recyclate contamination and clarity about what really constitutes recycling for measurement and target setting. This is a scenario in which recycling really means recycling: at the point of reprocessing not collection.
The onus falls on us to articulate our vision more clearly and more collaboratively across our industry
The opportunities may well include that very CE we aspire to.
Regardless of whether the UK is part of the EU or not, the imperative to reduce resource use and maximise the economic, social and environmental potential of the CE should remain just that – an imperative that the Government would do well to embrace positively. It needs to see the long-term merit in including our vision for the industry in its evolving thinking about a new ‘industrial strategy’ for the post-Brexit UK.
To do this, the onus falls on us to articulate that vision more clearly and more collaboratively.
While the psychological barrier that the uncertainty behind Brexit represents is real for many who did not support Brexit, we must overcome it by focusing hard on the future contribution of our industry, and start ourselves to shape a long-term framework for waste and resources that the Government can pick up and support us in delivering.
Perhaps it really is time to take back control.
Ray Georgeson is chief executive of the Resource Association