Industry calls for waste management reform

Posted on 9 Jan 2012

UK manufacturers are urging government to develop a far more ambitious approach to the management of waste in the UK as survey evidence shows that the shortage of materials is now the biggest threat to manufacturers.

The call is made in a review of the Government’s waste strategy published by manufacturers’ organisation EEF.

As part of its review, EEF stressed the importance of a new approach to legislation which is unnecessarily complex, confusing and based on out of date assumptions. For example, it still assumes waste will be sent to landfill, even though less than a quarter of waste manufacturing is disposed this way. In addition all companies should have access to local authority recycling facilities, regardless of where they are based.

The government should work with industry to develop a resource strategy that will enable materials, particularly those in scare supply, to be re-used and to speed up their movement across the economy. Such a strategy would make it easier for companies to make the most out of the waste they and others produce and reduce Britain’s dependence on imports.

The call was backed by an EEF survey of senior manufacturing leaders showing 80% now regard a shortage of raw materials as a risk to their business. Of these, two thirds said it was their top risk. In addition, one in six companies said that a shortage of raw materials is now a brake on growth.

Commenting, EEF head of climate and environment, Gareth Stace, said: “Waste policy has for some time been the forgotten element of the green agenda. But, with global demand for resources expected to soar in the future and manufacturers already rating raw material shortages as their biggest risk, we must not miss the opportunity to make the best of what we have. We now need a more ambitious approach which involves a resource strategy for the UK, simplified legislation and an improved infrastructure involving better access to local authority recycling.”

The EEF report identifies three key priorities for more ambitious action:

  • A clear and long term resource management strategy setting out a vision for how the UK will make the most of available resources (due to infrastructure shortfalls and market forces, the UK currently exports 15 million tonnes of waste).
  • Waste legislation and guidance must be simplified to allow businesses to fully contribute to sustainable waste and resource management
  • Facilitate speedy delivery of necessary infrastructure and advisory services (there is a lack of convenient and affordable recycling facilities).