ESA calls for longer-term support for recycling from the Autumn Statement

Ahead of new Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s unveiling of the Autumn statement 2016, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) has called on the government to show strong leadership and policy support that would help drive resource efficiency and the long-term competitiveness of the UK economy.

ESA calls for longer-term support for recycling from the Autumn StatementHammond will today (23 November) announce the government’s taxation and spending plans, based on the updated economic projections provided by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

Ahead of the statement, the ESA pointed to the success achieved over the past 20 years in the UK resource and waste management industry in diverting waste from landfill into recycling and energy recovery, but noted that the sector currently faces a number of increasingly urgent challenges: ‘waste volumes are rising, commodity prices have slumped, the waste treatment capacity gap is widening and criminal activity is undermining the legitimate industry’.

The association called on the government to focus on five key areas to help the UK meet its environmental ambitions at minimum cost and develop resilience to external market pressures and drivers:

  • explore reforming and extending current Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes to make producers of goods and packaging responsible for the environmental damage their products cause;
  • help the resource and waste management industry attract much-needed investment in new facilities through the introduction of new Green Infrastructure Investment Allowances;
  • consider introducing Green Public Procurement rules in favour of recycled materials to boost recycling in the UK.
  • provide long term certainty that landfill tax will remain at current real levels to help the industry plan and build for the future; and
  • continue to support the Environment Agency and HMRC to tackle waste crime.

ESA’s Executive Director, Jacob Hayler, said: “We believe that these measures will unlock the investment needed in our industry to enable us to deliver economic growth, thousands of new jobs and a greener, cleaner Britain.

“We look forward to hearing what the government has in mind when the Autumn Statement is announced.”

EAC: Treasury ‘riding roughshod’ over sustainability schemes

Last week, a report published by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said that the Treasury was guilty of putting short-term priorities ahead of other departments’ long-term sustainability schemes, potentially increasing costs to the economy in the future, and harming investor confidence.

As part of an inquiry ahead of today’s Autumn Statement, the EAC report called on the Treasury to ‘green-check’ its decisions, stating: ‘We heard multiple examples of where the Treasury has ridden roughshod over other departments’ objectives, changing and cancelling long-established environmental policies and projects at short notice with little or no consultation with relevant businesses and industries.”

The report also said that the Landfill Tax, introduced in 1996 to incentivise the move away from disposing waste in landfill, is now a ‘blunt instrument’ that is not sufficiently nuanced to drive continued increases in recycling rates.

The EAC report can be downloaded from the committee’s website.

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