The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has urged the business department to provide long-term stability for the waste sector in its upcoming industrial strategy.
It criticised the last Government for showing a “lack of joined-up thinking” in its approach to resource policy and hoped the restructured departments could improve this.
Its comments came in a submission to an Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) inquiry into Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UK.
The association said: “During the last Government, there was a lack of joined-up thinking between Defra, Decc, BIS, DCLG and HMT in which the economic benefits of a circular economy (CE) were not recognised alongside the environmental.”
Uncertainty caused by Brexit, along with “sudden” policy changes such as the removal of levy exemption certificates in 2015 and plans to alter charging arrangements for the electricity transmission network have damaged investor confidence, it said.
But the ESA welcomed the creation of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis), led by Greg Clark (pictured), saying it could lead to more “holistic thinking”. In one of his first speeches in the role, Clark said that his department would produce a new industrial strategy.
The ESA’s submission said: “It is vital that resource and waste management is fully incorporated into its industrial strategy so that the full environmental and economic benefits of a CE can be achieved.
“The industrial strategy must […] seek to provide long-term stability to ensure that the sector can plan ahead appropriately and attract much-needed investment.”
It also said SDGs could help fill some of the policy vacuum left by Brexit, which could hamper the EU’s CE package being transposed into UK law.
“The CE package sets out a promising level of ambition and a range of policy measures that could help the UK to become more resource efficient.
“Now that the UK is exiting the EU, the CE package may no longer have the same authority over UK legislation, potentially rendering resource policy in the UK weak and directionless. The SDGs, however, could provide the framework we need to refocus UK resource policy.”
In a previous submission to the inquiry, waste firm Suez called for responsibility for waste policy to be moved from Defra to Beis.