Back to Scuoler: Waste not, want not

Posted on 2 Feb 2012

EEF chief executive, Terry Scuoler sets out the basics which need to ground government support of waste reduction and resource efficiency in UK manufacturing.

Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of the EEF
Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF

Industry is under pressure from economic uncertainty, rising costs and increasing raw materials shortages. As such, the search for ways to become more efficient and find cost savings, including waste reduction and exploitation has become more urgent. But is government providing the right framework to support the efforts of industry around waste?

EEF’s recent report Defra’s Waste Policy Review – Six months on, part of our Green v Growth campaign, identified three challenges for government to respond to in order to help companies become more resource efficient. Firstly, manufacturers still hold a deep concern about accessing secure resources at the right quality. In a recent survey of manufacturing executives, 80% now regard a shortage of raw materials as a risk to their business and one in six said that a shortage of raw materials is now a brake on growth. We need a resource management strategy analysing how materials can flow more easily in the economy, setting out what we need for the long-term.

Secondly, the legislative framework for waste is confusing and can inadvertently act as a barrier to resource efficiency. We need a new cohesive policy framework centred on valuing waste as a resource while ensuring the environment is protected.

This could revitalise the waste regulatory framework that has evolved piecemeal over the last 30 years. We believe there is a real opportunity for new, better regulation approaches. Regulators can stimulate resource efficiency by outlining what is permissible, rather than what is not.

Thirdly, manufacturers need excellent waste services and expert advice they can trust in order to make the most out of their wastes. Announcements such as the local authority commitment to open up services to businesses and the responsibility deal signed by the waste management sector are positive steps.

Resource efficiency can give our businesses and the UK a real competitive edge at the same time as securing essential environmental outcomes. It is time for government to match the ambitions of business.