New commission targets resource efficiency

2020 C

Members of Parliament gathered yesterday (27 June), to mark the launch of a new government-led authority that aims to encourage productivity and resource efficiency in business.

The 2020 Productivity and Efficiency Commission, launched by the Conservatives as part of their 2020 Conservatives group, was unveiled at the headquarters of manufacturers’ organisation EEF yesterday, to investigate how businesses ‘can best shape the UK’s economy, making it fitter and more productive’.

According to the commission, £23 billion is wasted as a result of misuse of raw materials. It now hopes to address four key questions. These are:

  • How can the UK improve productivity, increase efficiencies and deliver greater bottom line returns across the economy?
  • How can the UK take a lead on building a longer term resilient business environment that will place the UK at a competitive advantage?
  • How can the UK adapt to the increased cost and insecure access to materials and resources when our business model has undervalued inputs?
  • How can the UK deliver a more stable and predictable economic environment?

Chaired by Laura Sandys MP (South Thanet), the commission aims to develop new systems and suggest policy in four key areas: waste reduction, new technologies and processes, renewable resources, and consumer demand.

Specifically, the commission hopes to address design, efficiency and lifecycle of products with the goal of minimising energy and water wastage and creating ‘renewable rather than volatile’ products. It will also focus on using renewable resources in the hope of breaking the UK’s reliance on imported resources, improve consumer demand for recyclable products, develop ‘new metrics around waste reduction’, and investigate the potential of asset optimisation through the creation of ‘strong secondary markets in raw materials and minerals’.Laura Sandys

Speaking at the launch of the 2020 Productivity and Efficiency Commission, Sandys (pictured right) said: “We need to emerge from the global downturn with a new economic model that is designed to deal with the fast moving challenges of the 21st century.  We cannot emerge from this downturn with an old economic model – we need to put competitiveness, productivity and resilience at the heart of our renewal.” 

Commission report

The authority intends to produce a report to ‘include a range of policy recommendations to drive greater efficiencies and eradicate systemic waste’ in the economy in the hopes of seeing the UK ‘have the fittest, most productive economy when the global recovery starts to gain pace’.

The commission’s report will suggest policy and deliver a roadmap for an economy that ‘values waste, supports resilience in resources, incentivises/penalises efficient use of resources and drives greater resource productivity’.

According to the commission, the report will articulate:

  • a ‘clear vision and ambition’ for government’s role in delivering a productive and efficient economy;
  • four key priorities for Government to address;
  • associated metrics and strategies to deliver these; and
  • a set of key policies that need to be in place in the next Parliament. 

The report is expected to be published in November.

Speaking of the launch, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said: “We want the UK to have the fittest, most productive economy when the global recovery starts to gain pace, with the policies in place to drive up productivity, tackle waste in our economy, ensure the best use of resources and raw materials and significantly reduce energy waste. 

“I look forward to hearing innovative ideas and new thinking for a fitter economy designed for the future.”

Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, added: “There is a growing body of evidence that suggests we can vastly improve the competitiveness of UK industry if we adopt new ways in using our resources. To make this a reality we now need a policy framework which dismantles the barriers to realising this vision. It is hugely encouraging that this is being seriously considered by the Productivity and Efficiency Commission to kick start thinking for the 2015 manifesto.”

Other members of the commission include Nicola Blackwood MP (Oxford West and Abingdon),  David Ruffley MP (Bury St Edmunds), Claire Perry MP (Devizes), Baroness Wheatcroft, and Stephen Barclay MP (North East Cambridgeshire).

Read more about the 2020 Conservatives.