CIWM calls for resource productivity in pre-election manifestos
The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has called on all political parties to include commitments to embed progress on resource productivity and efficiency as part of their election manifestos ahead of June’s general election.
The manifesto includes calls for assurances and action on environmental standards, resource productivity and a clear national strategy on waste to ensure that the UK makes the most of the industry’s potential contribution to the economy’s growth.
It underlines the resource and waste management sector’s existing contribution to the UK economy, providing 100,000 jobs and a gross value of nearly £7 billion, and its potential to improve resource productivity and efficiency to ensure sustainable and inclusive development in the UK.
CIWM asserts that effective resource management can play a key role in the economic development of traditional low growth and high employment areas through job creation and through a new focus on skills appropriate for a low carbon and resource efficient economy.
The main political parties have yet to release their manifestos for the General Election called by Theresa May for 8 June, but CIWM says these commitments and objectives should form part of a clear and coherent policy direction up to 2030 and beyond.
In order to put resource productivity and efficiency, crucial for insulating UK growth industries from the worst effects and risks of resource price volatility, CIWM recommends that the next government should:
- Monitor and report on ‘whole-economy’ and, where practical, sector-specific resource productivity;
- Ensure that any post-Brexit regulatory framework supports resource productivity (promoting resource efficiency, waste prevention, reuse, sharing economy) and a more circular economy;
- Provide support for innovation on resource productivity and waste management through organisations like WRAP and Innovate UK;
- Strengthen or introduce a coherent set of extended producer responsibility schemes for a suitable range of waste streams (packaging, mattresses, electrical and electronic equipment, tyres) to share the costs more equitably across the supply chain, including local authorities; incentivise more resource efficient product design; and enable investment in recycling infrastructure; and
- Recognise resource productivity and waste management skills as part of STEM and provide support (beyond apprenticeships) for resource productivity upskilling in smaller firms in all manufacturing sectors.
Ensuring that resources are readily and affordably available for UK industries has been highlighted as a long-term risk, with the manufacturers association EEF stating that ‘high material prices and security of supply is a threat to growth’, while, according to CIWM, almost a third of profit warnings issued by FTSE350 companies in 2011 were attributed to rising resource prices.
CIWM is calling on parties to produce long-term strategies to protect and enhance the environment and enshrine current environmental protections in preparation for Brexit using a new Environmental Protection Act.
It also calls for parties to continue to tackle waste crime – estimated to cost the UK economy over £500 million a year – through:
- Providing suitable resources (money and legal powers) to the environment agencies and HMRC to fight waste crime;
- Strengthening awareness of the legal obligations amongst businesses and householders, so less material can enter the illegal waste world; and
- Making the use of electronic Duty of Care systems compulsory for all waste producers and handlers.
Stable and Ambitious Policy Direction
Finally, CIWM is concerned with the lack of a formal waste strategy in England, needed to give clear medium and long-term security for the private sector, which is expected to provide much of the future investment in the industry.
CIWM says that growth in waste volumes linked to population and economic growth could see the costs borne by local authorities and businesses increase by £260 million to £485 million per year.
Meanwhile, with 15 per cent of the UK’s recycling capacity coming to the end of its working life before 2020, the lack of public sector procurement of recycling infrastructure currently in the pipeline could see a reduction in household recycling rates of five per cent and the loss of around 8,000 jobs.
CIWM is therefore calling on a future government to:
- Commit to the existing 2020 framework for resource management, in particular the 2020 EU landfill diversion and recycling targets;
- Adopt the EU Circular Economy Package proposals in the UK once agreed, followed by a properly consultative review of its elements where appropriate; and
- Produce 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.
Party Resource Policy in 2015 Manifestos
Ahead of the main political parties publishing their manifestos, it would be opportune to look back at what the parties promised regarding the waste and resource sector at the last election in 2015.
Despite its oft-repeated aim of ‘ensuring we become the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it’, the resources sector was completely absent from the Conservative Party’s last manifesto, with the party stepping back from waste policy work and refusing to introduce new targets while in coalition government.
Labour also neglected to mention the resource sector in its manifesto, removing an earlier pledge to ban food waste from landfill, as well as failing to detail concrete proposals following its well-received waste policy review ‘Resource Security: Growth and jobs from waste industries’.
Meanwhile, the Lib Dems sought to present themselves as a green choice at the election, including a promise to introduce a ‘Resource Efficiency and Zero Waste Britain Act’ with measures such as establishing a report on resource use, setting a waste recycling target of 70 per cent, introducing a landfill tax, and creating a Cabinet committee to oversee resource management.
The Green Party, naturally, included many commitments relating to the waste and resource sector in its manifesto, including moving towards a ‘jobs-rich circular economy’, using taxation and regulation to ensure waste is designed out and products can be fixed and used for longer, banning organic waste to landfill, increasing spending on recycling and waste by 50 per cent, and aiming for a household waste recycling target of 70 per cent by 2020.
Finally, UKIP, reneging on earlier promises from its 2010 manifesto which Nigel Farage described as “drivel”, said little about the waste and resources sector in its 2015 manifesto apart from promising the abolition of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), returning to weekly bin collections, and repealing the Climate Change Act of 2008.
It remains to be seen how the parties tackle the issue of resources, if at all, in their manifestos for 2017, but that will become clearer as campaigning intensifies over the coming weeks.