Defra’s resources and waste strategy marks an important step forward in building a more resource-efficient waste system in the UK. In particular, it was encouraging to see the Government’s commitment to energy from waste as a technology that diverts waste away from landfill, and the focus on driving up reuse and recycling rates across the country.
However, the detail behind the strategy will largely be revealed in future policy consultations, so there is some industry concern that the focus on the future will take precedence over the need for action now.
As we know, interest in single-use plastic pollution has never been so high. Yet the reality is that recycling rates are actually falling. So it is crucial that we seize the opportunity to harness consumer attitudes and see recycling rates rise.
We would urge the Government to make brave and forward-thinking decisions when it comes to the UK’s waste policy so that we can confidently meet 2020 targets, rather than just changing the benchmarks to a target that is still many years away, achieving no real follow-through.
In my view, the Government must ensure that producers are held to account for the plastic packaging they manufacture, and that we have adequate infrastructure to deal with our low-grade waste, starting right here, in 2019.
While the strategy talks a good game, there is still work to be done to make sure that it delivers the urgently needed reform to the UK’s waste system.
Paul Taylor is chief executive at FCC Environment