MRW asks figures from across the sector what three things they would wish for in 2019
Alan Wheeler is director at Textile Recycling Association (TRA)
To make significant headway on getting retailers and producers to take responsibility for the clothing and textiles they put on the market. The fashion industry is one of the world’s dirtiest and most polluting industries.
We need the fashion sector’s chief executives and senior board members to consider what action they can take to address their own environmental and social impacts, and then consider how they can do this profitably. Considerations should include design for recycling and durability; using more recycled fibres; how fashion can be ‘slowed down’; support for the fragile reuse and recycling markets.
The introduction of new collection and sorting standards. The TRA is working with colleagues across the UK used clothing supply chain to agree on a standard for collectors operating in the charity retail sector, which will cover issues such as waste licensing/permitting, compliance with employment law, health and safety, adherence to the Modern Slavery Act and so on.
We are confident that, once agreed, the standard will instil confidence in all collectors/sorters that comply with it. The TRA will look to see if this can be applied to a wider scope of used clothing and textile collectors including those operating collection banks.
A smooth Brexit. We need to maintain a similar level of frictionless movement of goods between the UK and the EU that we currently enjoy. It is predicted by some that if each lorry is held up by just an extra minute or two due to extra checks, this will cause chaos at many UK ports.
My fear is that as much of the public facing political attention has been centred on our borders with the Republic of Ireland. Many more goods move from the UK into France, Belgium and the Netherlands, than to Ireland. Politicians have to make sure they secure the best deal possible under Brexit and keep disruption of our export routes to an absolute minimum.
Nigel Harvey is chief executive at Recolight
Governments throughout the world unite to take decisive action to limit global temperature rises to 1.5oC – simply because it is without doubt the biggest issue facing us all.
The Government announces that online marketplaces will be required to take responsibility for compliance with waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) regulations of goods they sell in the UK. The large-scale WEEE avoidance through online sellers risks undermining the long-term financial sustainability of the UK’s WEEE system.
The existing WEEE producer compliance scheme balancing system becomes mandatory for all WEEE schemes. The system has successfully managed excess WEEE from local authorities since 2016, but a few schemes have opted out to avoid the cost. Making it mandatory will level the playing field for all schemes.
Charlotte Morton is chief executive at Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association
Universal food waste collections in England. With Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already having such collections and seeing an increase in recycling rates as a result, it is high time that England caught up. Only a third of all households in England have food waste recycling facilities.
It is also imperative that local authorities are given the financial means to roll out these services – higher taxes on single-use plastics and/or incineration could provide a solution here.
“Only a third of all households in England have food waste recycling facilities, and it is high time they caught up with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
Renewable heat support beyond 2020. While the restoration of higher tariffs and the introduction of tariff guarantees for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was a welcome development in 2018, there is currently no support guaranteed beyond 2020. This risks creating a valley of death for investment in low-carbon heat at the very time when there is mounting pressure on the Government to ramp up the pace of decarbonisation.
Serious investment in bioenergy R&D. The anaerobic digestion (AD) industry has the potential to meet 30% of domestic energy demand and reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 5%, but achieving this potential will continue to be challenging until AD becomes cost-competitive against other renewable technologies.
With targeted government investment, we could transform the economics of the industry and put it at the cutting edge of UK bioscience, opening up post-Brexit export opportunities in the process.
Andy Hill is chairman at Wood Recycler’s Association (WRA)
That the UK gets a good deal on Brexit, enabling us to continue to import and export successfully.
That our newly strengthened proactive relationship with the Environment Agency (EA) continues to develop because it is clear that both sides benefit from working together, and that WRA members receive permits in a timely manner.
That the EA is given more resources to tackle waste crime and illegal operators, and that the judicial system then appreciates the severity of the crime and deals with it accordingly.
Jeremy Jacobs is technical director at Renewable Energy Association
Impose mandatory food waste collections on households and the commercial and industrial sector. We need to ensure that we remove biowaste from landfill and energy from waste and use it as a fertiliser replacement and feedstock for the production of renewable energy. This will address stagnating recycling rates as well as mitigating against climate change impacts from burning or landfilling this valuable resource.
Improve the quality of feedstock supplied to composting facilities and cut the amount of contamination within it, especially plastics. Security of the landbank is essential and ensuring that this is protected, along with greater confidence in the use of biodegradable resources such as compost and digestate.
Support the AD sector post-2021 when the RHI mechanism finishes. The benefits of AD are many and it is important that there are sufficient incentives to ensure that it continues to be a viable route for the processing of biowaste. This should also ensure that in-vessel composting is not ignored but that technologies should complement one another and be used where appropriate depending on collection regimes and local infrastructure.
Simon Weston is director of raw materials at Confederation of Paper Industries
The Government’s resources and waste strategy needs to be ambitious in challenging issues such as domestic reprocessing capacity, secondary material quality and consumer involvement in recycling.
The developing dialogue over extended producer responsibility reform delivers new funding and new thinking about how we deliver genuinely high-quality recycling.
There is acknowledgement among stakeholders that collection consistency underpins the quality of post-domestic materials and there is positive action to support its introduction.
Lee Marshall is chief executive at Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee
Publication of a comprehensive resources and waste strategy that means the UK is seen to be taking producer responsibility seriously, and channels more funding into household waste collections. Ongoing funding cuts have meant councils are having to reduce services to balance the books; without new funding from somewhere this will only continue.
A roll back from a deposit return scheme (DRS) and more in-depth research done on the impacts on local authorities – with a serious plan for an on-the-go DRS. Other countries have generally layered kerbside systems on top of a DRS, but the UK is the opposite and such a scheme could severely undermine kerbside schemes and be more expensive overall for producers.
A shift in public opinion that sees people taking more individual responsibility for undertaking recycling. Councils have in place comprehensive kerbside systems and communicate them well, but there is still a large amount of material in the residual bin. It would be great to find a way of getting recycling higher up the list of things that are important to people.
Howard Button is chief executive at National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC)
Scrap market stability, for the benefit of demolition contractors and scrap merchants alike. With the demolition industry holding strong and many large-scale and high-profile projects on the horizon for NFDC members, scrap price stability gives the confidence they need when pricing.
The price of scrap plays a significant part in the commercial and financial aspects of any demolition contractor’s business, and I am certain they would echo this wish during 2019, especially at a time when we are unsure what the future holds post-Brexit.
Brexit brings us benefits that balance, or outweigh, the challenges it may present to the demolition industry in 2019. One such benefit we can hope for is that Brexit prompts an increase in UK-based production and manufacturing, creating more demand for raw materials such as steel.
Creating a circular economy in our domestic market would benefit many parties, and reduce the costs, time and logistical administration they currently experience when having to ship materials abroad for reuse.
That 2019 will be the year we make improvements in the reuse and reprocessing of plastics. The NFDC frequently shouts from the rooftops that demolition industry recycling rates demonstrate an incredible 96% audited average, with many of our accredited demolition contractors hitting 100%.
But we are finding more and more plastic material coming on-site, with very few recycling facilities available to process this vital resource. With such a lack of processing facilities locally, this again links to hopes that Brexit will drive the creation of more facilities to meet domestic demand for plastics.