The Government has vowed to promote secondary material markets in the business department’s much-anticipated industrial strategy green paper.
It pledges to explore the possibility of reducing waste and raw material demand in the UK’s energy and resource systems, and promises to support businesses in realising cost savings through greater resource efficiency.
This work, the paper says, will be supported by Defra’s upcoming 25-year environment plan, the framework for which is expected soon.
It says: “The industrial strategy will also consider how energy costs can be contained or reduced by increasing resource and energy productivity. Increasing the efficiency of material use across the whole supply chain can deliver huge cost savings and improve the productivity of UK businesses.
“The Government will work with stakeholders to explore opportunities to reduce raw material demand and waste in our energy and resource systems, promote well-functioning markets for secondary materials and new disruptive business models that challenge inefficient practice.
“This work will be supported by the Government’s 25-year environment plan which will set out a long-term vision for delivering a more resource efficient and resilient economy.”
Resource productivity and security will become an increasingly critical bottom line issue for UK businesses
Steve Lee, Resources & Waste UK
One question it puts to respondents is: “How can the Government support businesses in realising cost savings through greater resource and energy efficiency?”
It also pledges to ensure the UK transitions to a “low-carbon and resource-efficient economy” by making sure that next-generation technologies such as electric cars are “created and harnessed” in the UK.
Stakeholders have until 23 June to respond to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis).
Reaction from the industry
Jacob Hayler, executive director of the Environmental Services Association, welcomed the Government’s recognition of the role that resource efficiency can play in driving growth in the economy.
He said: “We look forward to working with the Government both on this strategy and on Defra’s 25-year environmental plan, to introduce policies which promote sustainable markets for secondary raw materials and which encourage investment in much-needed infrastructure to improve the way the UK’s wastes are turned into productive resources and energy.”
The UK waste and resource management sector has the potential to become a valuable source of feedstocks for industrial growth sectors
Colin Church, CIWM
Steve Lee, director general of Resources and Waste UK, also said the paper’s focus on a resource efficient economy was significant.
“Given the long-term vision of the strategy through to 2050, it must anticipate how UK businesses will be able to compete successfully in a resource-constrained future,” he said.
“Global demand for resources will continue to grow for everything from paper and metals to energy and rare materials, and resource productivity and security will become an increasingly critical bottom line issue for UK businesses.”
Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) chief executive Colin Church welcomed the paper’s focus on innovation and science.
“The UK waste and resource management sector has shown itself to be dynamic and innovative in developing new ways of deriving value from waste – both as secondary materials and energy – and has the potential to become a valuable source of feedstocks for industrial growth sectors, including the UK bioeconomy”. (More from Church below.)
The opportunity afforded by the industrial strategy to seize the potential economic opportunities offered by the resource management sector is there for the taking
David Palmer-Jones, Suez UK
Jake Sumner, senior associate for industrial strategy at think tank ResPublica, welcomed the fact that prime minister Theresa May presented the paper herself.
”It is welcome that the prime minister has outlined her commitment, signalling that it is a whole-of-government approach and not just part of the business department,” he said.
“The strategy rightly covers many areas from procurement to skills, supportive institutions to sectors. Its success will rest on including the whole country, with a consensus built across political parties and a recognition that agency is not simply an arm of government but is embedded across institutions, business and regions.”
Suez UK chief executive David Palmer-Jones said his company would work with the Government to embed waste and resources into its industrial strategy.
He said: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to promote well-functioning markets for secondary raw materials, the foundation for the UK’s ability to create a low-carbon, resource efficient economy.
“Businesses across all sectors in the UK are become increasingly aware of the value to their efficiency and, subsequently, bottom line in realising a circular economy where waste is minimised, energy costs controlled and producers are able to rely on quality secondary raw materials within the supply chain.
“The opportunity afforded by the industrial strategy to seize the potential economic opportunities offered by the resource management sector is there for the taking.”
In November, the Environmental Audit Committee warned that the Treasury had failed to support a “coherent” green industrial strategy since 2010.
“If the Treasury is going to contribute constructively to industrial strategy, it will have to reflect on, and learn lessons from, its recent past and make decisions which help rather than hinder investor confidence,” it said.
”It should commit to work with Beis and other departments with environmental policies so that the Government’s new industrial strategies explicitly explain how the potential of the UK’s green economy will be realised and how environmental sustainability objectives will be supported.”
Colin Church, CIWM chief executive:
“We welcome this green paper and look forward to working with the Government and our sector to shape it more fully. It is particularly encouraging to see resource productivity identified as being important to the competitiveness and resilience of the UK economy.
“There are also important strands in the paper that are directly relevant to our sector, not least the focus on innovation and science.
“The UK waste and resource management sector has shown itself to be dynamic and innovative in developing new ways of deriving value from waste – both as secondary materials and energy – and has the potential to become a valuable source of feedstocks for industrial growth sectors, including the UK bioeconomy.
“We also welcome the commitment to technical education and the additional £170m funding. The CIWM and Wamitab have long championed skills, qualifications and competence across our sector, which requires a wide range of specialisms from mechanical, civil and chemical engineering through to the life sciences highlighted for support in the paper.
“Not only that, but we have an important role to play in promoting more safe, sustainable and resource-efficient waste management skills right across UK plc, skills that will be important to our future competitiveness.
“In seeking to secure the economic benefits of our move towards a low-carbon economy, the prime minster and her colleagues must also not forget the important contribution that the waste and resource management sector makes to tackling climate change, both in terms of reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the impact associated with the extraction and consumption of virgin raw materials.
“This contribution must be reflected in any strategy seeking to deliver low-carbon growth and must be planned for as part of the infrastructure upgrade that has been promised today.
“In addition, given its very nature, waste and resource management happens at a local as well as a national level, and is an important component in the prime minister’s drive to secure local economic development across the UK.”