Another year flashes by. We started 2015 wondering about the likely impact of the impending general election. A reasonable expectation of change came ahead of the poll when the Liberal Democrats committed themselves to an Office for Resource Management
Meanwhile Labour, after shamefully failing to rebut woolly Conservative claims about the cost of its food waste and landfill policies, hinted strongly about a similar proposal.
It never got into the manifesto and, today, seven months after the election, we still await Labour’s strategy for the waste sector – now promised for next year. Bins, recycling and incinerators can be problematic political topics, especially at the community level, but a positive, coherent stance on sustainability must surely be a vote winner.
After signing up to the Paris COP21 agreement, the Tory Government must put words into action. Former DECC minister Greg Barker, in a Green Alliance blog this week, praised energy secretary Amber Rudd for her role in the talks, and urged the prime minister to back her by “helping Conservatives once again get on the front foot of this agenda”.
That cannot come too soon. It has been a year of significant casualties in the metals, plastics and paper industries. Would we see such inaction from Whitehall if our sector had as high a profile as the vehicle or financial services industries?
Ministers are to be congratulated for putting extra cash into the fight against waste crime. But what, for example, is the point of selling off the Green Investment Bank, the establishment of which was a credit to the coalition and has injected much-needed cash, mostly for the energy-from-waste sector? The chancellor insists nothing will change, but he is short of cash and it is not unreasonable to doubt the motive.
And then there are the circular economy proposals from Brussels, published on 2 December. This time next year, we will have a better idea of their likely impact ahead of implementation in 2017, but we can at least hope they put fresh impetus into our businesses in the meantime.
Despite the setbacks, I want to sign off on a positive note. Innovation, resourcefulness and enterprise still thrive in the sector, and we have been proud to highlight that in the pages of MRW and through the National Recycling Awards. Have a great Christmas and profitable New Year.