As the political parties engage in battle for the General Election and set out their stalls in the various manifestoes, organisations, companies and individuals within the waste sector add their views to the mix. Here, MRW lists the key responses.
Environmental Services Association (ESA)
Political parties are urged to commit to building a strong and competitive resource economy. ESA’s manifesto, Resourceful, makes four recommendations:
- Transfer resource ownership from the public sector to product supply chains by reforming extended producer responsibility
- Build resilient recycling and recovery markets by stimulating demand for secondary raw materials
- Realise economies of scale through greater joint working
- Drive waste crime out of the sector
900 Jacob Hayler
Executive director Jacob Hayler (pictured) said: “Rising costs, endemic waste crime and a policy vacuum has placed immense pressure on the UK waste and resources sector in recent years. Without action, we estimate that,, by 2020 waste could cost local authorities and businesses up to an extra £485m a year.
”This is not inevitable. The next Government has an opportunity to put in place a bold strategy that will help to create a world-leading sustainable waste and resources management sector which builds UK competitiveness. This will, in turn, help to realise the UK economy’s resource efficiency potential and raise future productivity and growth prospects.
”By addressing these areas, the next Government will not only avert a crisis, but help to deliver economic growth, thousands of new green jobs and a healthier environment.”
The Resource Association
The association highlighted national differences with in the UK, saying the potential for the CE required a longer-term and deeper policy commitment than presently exists in England. Scottish policy on the CE was much more advanced, with marked progress also emerging in Northern Ireland and particularly on quality and high-performance recycling in Wales, it added.
A developed CE needs fiscal incentives and penalties, smart regulation, enforcement of existing rules and a fresh approach to using public procurement as a lever to deliver demand for products that use recycled material.
Its central premise was to embrace the potential of the CE, regardless of the result of Brexit negotiations.
Ray Georgeson, chief executive, said: “In producing our Manifesto for Resources and identifying 10 steps towards a CE, our desire is to remind our politicians how important this is, with its twin benefits to the environment and economy. Environmental progress, protections and the value of our regulated resource industries have been hard won in past decades. We hope this is not lost on future policymakers.”
The 10 steps are:
- Undertake a comprehensive review of English waste policy.
- Establish a statutory duty on businesses to collect and submit data on waste and resource use.
- A ban on biodegradable waste to landfill and separate food waste collections accessible to every household by 2025.
- Businesses to present separately key recyclables and food waste from their premises (as in Scotland).
- A statutory duty for local authorities to publish an End Destination Register for Waste and Recyclate.
- Ban the collection of glass commingled with other recyclates.
- ‘Demand-pull’ measures to catalyse demand for products that utilise recyclate.
- Investment to tackle waste crime at home and illegal exports of waste sent as recyclate.
- A full review of the Packaging Recovery Note system for producer responsibility for packaging and packaging waste.
- A review of public procurement rules.
Mathew Prosser, UK managing director at DS Smith Recycling, said: “With natural resources dwindling and commodity prices exposed to the volatility of the markets, working towards a CE is becoming ever-more essential. In the run-up to next month’s General Election, now is the perfect time to act. We’re calling for a clear political commitment to sustainability and hope the RA’s manifesto will act as a clarion call for immediate action.”
Renewable Energy Association
A low-cost and low-carbon energy system provides huge opportunities for the UK, but industry needs to see the ‘strong and stable’ direction that the Conservatives are campaigning on. The key asks are:
- Recommit support for the Climate Change Act and the upcoming carbon budgets
- Commit to publishing a comprehensive Clean Growth Plan by this year’s Autumn Statement which lays out clear pathways to meeting our 4th and 5th carbon budgets
- Commit to the transposition of all EU energy and environmental regulations into UK law at the point of departure from the EU, including a meaningful price for carbon
Chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: “For the renewables industry, strength and stability are things we crave more than any other. The past two years have seen my members rocked by policy change after policy change and uncertainty following the Brexit vote. From renewable heat, solar, biomass, biogas, marine – we have not seen a member unaffected. But we now have to put that behind us and push forward.
“Renewable solutions are now cheaper than fossil fuel scenarios, but are getting blocked to market. This is bad for consumers, who will be paying more now, as well as locked into a higher cost, higher carbon energy system for decades to come.
“It is bad for UK industry, and the workforce too. Cleantech means jobs for future, and the UK can still be leaders in storage and EVs, next generation solar, bioenergy and smart grids if we truly commit. The alternative is being left behind by the rest of the world and squandering our initial lead in these areas.”
Joint union/industry approach
Seven manufacturing trade associations have been joined by the Unite, GMB and Community trade unions in demanding that politicians include strong new ‘trade remedies’ within their manifestoes. Until now defending UK manufacturing against floods of unfair imports has been the responsibility of the European Commission under rules set out in EU regulations. They argue that, if the new Government does not act quickly to set up the UK’s own trade remedies system, British industry could be left defenceless, risking many thousands of jobs.
Andrew Large, Confederation of Paper Industries director general, said: “This is an important report, and it gets to the heart of the adjustments that will be needed in UK trade remedies policy in advance of Brexit. I urge the next Government to adopt these recommendations as a matter of urgency.”
Tony Burke, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “Post-Brexit, the UK will be responsible for its own trade defence mechanisms which we need to be ahead of the game if we are to protect jobs and British industry. Unite, other manufacturing unions and the trade associations which have taken the initiative believe we need robust defence structures which are simple and easy to use to protect decent jobs and our industries such as steel, ceramics, paper and tyres which are susceptible to dumping from countries such as China.”