EEF finds manufacturers want more 'green' red tape removed

Manufacturers are not feeling the benefit of red tape culls, says a new report from the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, which calls for bolder government action on environmental legislation.

In 2012, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a review to investigate opportunities to reduce regulatory burdens while improving the delivery of environmental benefits. This has, to date, mostly been focussed on administrative burdens, rather than regulatory ones. EEF’s report, ‘Green tape: manufacturers’ views of progress on Defra’s regulatory reform agenda’, has reviewed the progress made in cutting environmental red tape and suggests there is still a lot more to do.

Report findings

Red tape hindering manufacturers’ environmental performanceA survey of EFF’s members found that manufacturers want to see government go further in reforming legislation and streamlining data reporting, with 71 per cent of respondents saying that cutting back on ‘green’ legislation in line with the ‘one in, two out’ policy is important to their business.

However, 41 per cent of the members said that Defra’s attempts to cut back on legislation haven’t gone far enough, while just 25 per cent think efforts have had the right focus. Many of the attempts to reform ‘green’ red tape have been ineffective due to their focus on the UK, says 37 per cent of respondents, instead of the EU ‘where the majority of legislation originates’.

Moreover, less than 10 per cent say that red tape culls have saved them time (seven per cent) or money (nine per cent), even though Defra aimed to reduce the time businesses take on reporting by 20 per cent and to free up regulator resources by over £10 million a year.

Among the specific complaints regarding the red tape surrounding environmental legislation was the criticism that guidance is hard to find, technically complex and that it us not always clear when it has been updated or replaced.

The report reads: “Confusion has also emerged as a result of the migration of websites to the site, which has led, at least in the short term, to companies having difficulty in finding information and documents, particularly when exploring anything complex and unusual.”

Members also suggested that reporting obligations often clash and that the ‘piecemeal web of legislation’ means that smaller manufacturers often struggle to fully grasp the breadth of their legal responsibilities.

Manufacturers, points out the report, are subject to at least 10 pieces of legislation on waste, including the Environmental protection Act 1990, Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007, the Waste Batteries & Accumulators Regulations 2009 and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment  (WEEE) Regulations 2013.

Report recommendations

A number of recommendations for improving reforms are included in the report, including:

  • Defra should set out its plan to monitor comprehension and ease of accessing guidance systematically over time;
  • the government must explore stable options to finance data reporting improvements, with priority given to establishing a single data reporting system;
  • the government should commit to wide-sweeping reform of environmental legislation to rationalise and consolidate the existing stock;
  • a ‘cost barometer’ should be established to ensure the cumulative costs of regulation, both domestic and European, are routinely assessed and considered during policy making and policy reviews; and
  • Defra should continue to provide a lead to the “Make it Work” initiative in order to establish consensus in Europe of the need for reform.

Sector yearning for ‘unnecessary’ red tape to stop hindering improvements

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, said: “Our report shows that manufacturers remain committed to addressing environmental and climate concerns, but are still having to wade through unnecessary levels of complexity and red tape in order to do so, which in too many cases is holding them back.

“The previous government got off to a good start in identifying the roadblock caused by poor legislation and began to take steps to simplify the stock of guidance and legislation in this area.

“There is, however, a real appetite in the sector for bolder reform that increases fairness, creates markets and improves the environment without damaging competitiveness, impeding innovation or creating barriers to trade, investment and efficiency."

The report has been released three weeks before the government closes a consultation seeking views on how it can ease legislative burdens associated with waste regulation as part of its current focus on cutting regulation costs by £10 billion.

Read EEF’s ‘Green tape: manufacturers’ views of progress on Defra’s regulatory reform agenda’ report.