ESA: Political parties must make resource economy priority
The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has set out four key policy recommendations around building a strong and competitive resource economy for political parties standing in June’s general election to include in their pre-election manifestos.
The resource and waste management trade association released its manifesto for waste and resources, ‘Resourceful’, on Thursday (4 May), hot on the heels of manifestos released by CIWM and the Resource Association over the past week.
Speaking on the launch of the manifesto, ESA’s Executive Director, Jacob Hayler, said: “Rising costs, endemic waste crime and a policy vacuum has placed immense pressure on the UK waste and resources sector in recent years. Without action, we estimate that by 2020 waste could cost local authorities and businesses up to an extra £485 million per annum.
“This is not inevitable. The next government has an opportunity to put in place a bold strategy that will help create a world leading sustainable waste and resources management sector which builds UK competitiveness. This will, in turn, help to realise the UK economy’s resource efficiency potential and raise future productivity and growth prospects.”
The manifesto outlines four key policy recommendations to be adopted by the political parties. These recommendations include:
- Transfer resource ownership from the public sector to product supply chains by reforming Extended Producer Ownership;
- Build resilient recycling and recovery markets by stimulating demand for secondary raw materials;
- Realise economies of scale through greater joint working; and
- Drive waste crime out of the sector.
The document claims that the proposed policy package would lead to a private-sector led waste infrastructure investment package of £10 billion, the creation of 50,000 jobs, the creation of 15 million tonnes of new processing capacity, and public expenditure savings of between £1-4 billion.
Hayler continued: “By addressing these areas, the next Government will not only avert a crisis, but help deliver economic growth, thousands of new green jobs, and a healthier environment.”
Transferring resource ownership to product supply chains
The ESA manifesto’s first recommendation is the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes, which sees the financial responsibility for waste collection systems fall on product and packaging producers.
With research underway into how EPR could be applied to the UK, EPR is intended to transfer the costs of waste management onto producers and away from local authorities, potentially saving council taxpayers £250 every year.
It is hoped that this will incentivise producers to design recyclable products and packaging and to get involved in the waste collection system so that the systems are capable of recycling these products efficiently.
Building resilient recycling and recovery markets
The second recommendation contained in the manifesto is to build resilience into the recycling and recovery markets through stimulating demand for secondary materials and harmonising collection systems to the reduce contamination of recyclate.
Furthermore, demand for recyclables in the private sector could be encouraged through minimum thresholds for the use of recycled content, with levies for those companies that did not want to use recycled materials. In addition, additional taxes would be considered given falling landfill tax revenues.
Stimulated demand would lead improved UK resource security and allow the country to remain competitive during periods of resource price volatility.
Realising economies of scale
Improving harmonisation of waste collection services between local authorities could lead to significant efficiency savings of between £200 million and £450 million, while harmonisation would also complement producer responsibility by allowing them to interact with the municipal recycling sector.
The ESA says political opposition at local level could be overcome by setting up a challenge fund to favour harmonisation while Local Enterprise Partnerships aid the matching of waste resource flows with regional industrial demand for the range of outputs from post-recycling waste.
Driving waste crime out of the sector
Finally, the ESA posits that tackling the £330-810 million scourge of the UK economy that is waste crime will require a new settlement for regulation of the sector to ensure all material is accounted for in a legitimate and more stringent system, with actions such as tougher requirements for permit holders and more powers for regulators to stop illegal activity.
Stronger penalties and smarter regulation based on the innovation rather than precautionary principle should be introduced to ensure a more rigorous application of Duty of Care and a guarantee that all waste is picked up and disposed of by registered carriers at permitted sites.
The ESA’s ‘Resourceful’ manifesto can be read and downloaded from the association’s website.