Looming raw materials shortage a threat to industry

EEF and Friends of the Earth have today issued a call for government to take bolder action on the threats to industry and the economy posed by shortages in key raw materials

A joint letter from the Material Security Working Group, which includes EEF, and Friends of the Earth was sent to Government today.

The letter warns that if the UK does not develop a stronger strategy to keep valuable raw materials circulating within the economy there will be significant consequences for UK industry.

Members of the Material Security Resource Group want to see the Government’s Resource Security Action Plan, published in March, strengthened and its ambitions raised.

Among other measures, the group calls for the formation of an Office of Resource Management in government and a ban on sending recyclable materials to “energy from waste” plants and landfills without clear justification.

According to Friends of the Earth Resource Campaigner Julian Kirby the UK buries and burns at least £650 million a year of valuable materials – “wasting billions of pounds of business and public money.”

A recent EEF survey found 80% of senior manufacturing executives considered limited access to raw materials was already a business risk and a threat to growth. For one in three companies it was their top risk.

The cost of raw materials has risen substantially in recent years, with commodity price rises in the last decade alone wiping out a century-long decline.

Despite recent fluctuations, material prices are projected to escalate as three billion people join the global middle classes and an urbanised global population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2015.

This will putting pressure on already fragile and depleted ecosystems says Friends of the Earth and, in future it expects to see rising costs across raw materials from wood, plastic and rubber to the ‘rare earth’ metals used to make every day electronic products and low-carbon technologies.

EEF Head of Climate & Environment Policy, Gareth Stace, said: “We live in an age where global demand for resources is surging with prices on an upward trend and concerns about shortages mounting. Whilst the government’s Resource Security Action Plan was a step in the right direction, it falls short of meeting the challenges we will face when obtaining new resources will become more difficult and costly.”