CIWM proposes Resources Policy Blueprint for next Government

With the upcoming general election on 4 July, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has conducted a review of the 'Resources and Waste Strategy for England' revealing policy gaps that fail to support current and future requirements for a circular economy and resource resilience.

Houses of ParliamentThe CIWM, through a working group of its members, has developed a comprehensive policy blueprint consisting of ten 'policy asks' for the next government.

The recommendations are divided into two categories: policies to be prioritised in the first two years of the new government, and those to be developed in the following three to five years of the term.

During the first two years, CIWM urges the full implementation of key policies from the existing Resources and Waste Strategy, including seeing through the plan to deliver extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging. In addition, there is an opportunity to introduce EPR for other products where end-of-life management can be challenging, such as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), batteries, textiles, and mattresses. This should include the use of modulated fees based on the circularity of products, to drive product innovation and resource resilience.

In addition to EPR, CIWM emphasises the importance of implementing consistent collections in England (currently known as Simpler Recycling) and introducing digital waste tracking.

To ensure a coordinated approach to resource resilience and the transition to a circular economy, CIWM proposes creating a cross-government resource resilience task force. This task force would bring together multiple government departments, including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), and the Department for Business and Trade (DBT). By facilitating joint working across these departments, the task force can develop and implement critical policies that address the complex and interconnected challenges of resource management, climate change, and economic development.

In addition to EPR and consistent collections, CIWM has identified the need for a Green Skills Fund, not only to benefit the resources and waste sector but also other carbon-intensive industries undergoing rapid decarbonisation. Alongside this, the Government should adopt the proposals put forth in the Skills Commission's Skills 2030 report, which emphasises the importance of fully utilising the Apprenticeship Levy, diversifying its use across a broader range of training and qualifications.

Furthermore, CIWM urges the Government to release the draft Green Jobs Delivery Plan and extend the tenure of the Green Jobs Delivery Group. These actions can help create a cross-sectoral campaign to attract investment in sector training, careers mapping, and careers advisory education support.

Lee MArshall, CIWM’s Director of Innovation and Technical ServicesCommenting on the proposals Lee Marshall, CIWM's Director of Innovation and Technical Services, said: "A new Government presents a great opportunity to make the UK more resource resilient. These policy proposals are a clear demonstration of CIWM's commitment to leading the way and helping to deliver a major step change in our journey to a world beyond waste."

For years three to five, CIWM recommends replacing the current 25 Year Environment Plan with a new Circular Economy Plan, supported by a Resource Resilience Strategy. This strategy would address gaps in the 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy and incorporate CIWM's other policy proposals.

One key recommendation is to price raw materials in a way that includes negative environmental externalities. This would involve considering the environmental impacts associated with the extraction, processing, and disposal of raw materials and incorporating these costs into the price. By doing so, the true environmental cost of using these materials would be reflected, encouraging more sustainable practices and the use of recycled or renewable materials.

CIWM also proposes introducing targeted economic instruments, such as subsidies for circular products and services, funded by taxes on linear products. This would create financial incentives for businesses to develop and adopt more sustainable practices, driving innovation and investment in the circular economy.

Additionally, CIWM emphasises the need to strengthen eco-design and waste prevention measures. This includes introducing a right to repair, which would ensure that products are designed to be easily repairable and long-lasting. The institution also calls for a new, more robust Waste Prevention Programme for England by the end of 2025, with key actions and targets for relevant sectors of the UK economy.

Finally, CIWM stresses the importance of ensuring adequate funding for the Environment Agency and other regulators. These organisations play a crucial role in enforcing environmental regulations and driving standards and professionalism within the sector. However, they are currently underfunded and operating with outdated regulations that focus on managing waste rather than facilitating the capture and use of resources. CIWM believes that a significant injection of funding and resources, alongside a wholesale change in how we define the end of waste, is necessary to support the transition to a circular economy.

CIWM plans to engage with ministers post-election to review the policy asks and publish its full review report.

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