Ministers in the next Government are being urged by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) to embrace the EU’s circular economy proposals with a comprehensive management strategy.
The organisation has produced a manifesto for the general election which concludes: “The next UK Government must continue the journey towards a clean environment and better resource productivity. To do so will require an ambitious, forward-looking and stable policy direction.”
The manifesto seeks commitment in three areas:
- current environmental standards are maintained and the UK continues to show ambition on delivering clean growth and a better environment, irrespective of Brexit
- better resource productivity and efficiency as a key strand of Government economic and environmental policy
- a clear and stable future policy direction to 2030 and beyond
It says: “Transitioning to a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy will require a renewed focus on skills related to low-carbon growth, resource productivity and efficiency.”
In terms of environmental standards, the CIWM notes that “decades of action” by law-makers and sector stakeholders have reduced the negative effects of waste in the UK and elsewhere but waste remains “an ever-present challenge”.
The growth of waste crime is such that the annual bill is in excess of £500m a year in lost taxes and profits.
The CIWM points out that resource availability and security were a potential future risk to the UK. As an example, it quotes the car industry for which raw material account for 47% of costs – more than twice that of labour (21%).
An additional risk is said to be the impact of austerity on local authorities.
The manifesto expresses concern at an expected UK capacity gap in residual waste treatment infrastructure after 2020 and no new investment on the horizon for recycling infrastructure.
“With 15% of the UK’s current recycling capacity likely to end its useful life between now and 2020, this could see a reduction in household recycling rates of 5% and the loss of 8,000 jobs,” it warns.
The stable policy direction sought by the CIWM requires:
- no stepping back from the existing 2020 framework for resource management, in particular the 2020 EU landfill diversion and recycling targets
- adopting the EU circular economy package proposals in the UK once agreed, followed by a properly consultative review of its elements where appropriate
- a comprehensive resource productivity and waste management strategy for England, consistent with the targets in the Climate Change Act, setting the direction of travel out to 2030 and beyond