Resource Use

Resource Association releases manifesto for resources

The Resource Association (RA), a trade association for the reprocessing and recycling industries and their supply chain, has today (31 March) called on the next government to implement a new Resource Management and Circular Economy Act to improve resource efficiency and waste policy.

Resource Association releases manifesto for resources

The call comes in the RA’s new ‘Manifesto for Resources 2015’, which states that ‘potential for the circular economy… requires a longer-term and deeper policy commitment than presently exists’.

It highlights that as current responsibility for resource policy is spread across several government departments (i.e. the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS)), which ‘often act in confusing, un-coordinated and even contradictory ways’, there is ‘uncertainty’ about the future path of resource policy.

As such, the association has set out a series of measures that the next government could implement to prepare us ‘for the challenges of climate change, resource security and job creation that a strong circular economy can deliver’.

Manifesto details

The headline suggestion is for the government to inject ‘fresh impetus’ to the circular economy by introducing a Resource Management and Circular Economy Act that would provide the ‘building blocks for an intelligent, data-led resources strategy’.

The RA suggests that, as a minimum, this should include:

  • establishing an Office for Resource Management (ORM) (joining similar calls made by the Material Security Working GroupWWF-UK, the Institution of Civil Engineers, and the Circular Economy Task Force) with ‘full cross-departmental co-ordination authority on resources policy’ that would commission a ‘fundamental review of the environmental and economic case for action on resource use, scarcity and efficiency (along the lines of the Stern Review on climate change) feeding into the conversion of the current Waste Strategy into a Resources Strategy’;
  • placing a statutory duty on regulated and licensed businesses that provide waste and resources collections to collect and submit data on waste and resource use, to ‘aid full understanding of material flows and impacts and infrastructure planning’;
  • introducing a requirement for businesses to separately collect key recyclables (paper, glass, metals and plastics) and food waste from their premises;
  • placing a statutory duty on local authorities to publish an end destinations of recyclate and waste (and extend the duty to their contractors) to improve public confidence in the recycling process through greater transparency;
  • bringing forward a ban on biodegradable waste to landfill and a duty on local authorities to provide food waste collections to every household by 2020 to increase recycling rates;
  • placing a landfill and incineration ban on ‘key recyclables’ by 2030 as markets and end uses for recyclates are fully developed; and
  • establishing a ban on the collection of glass co-mingled with other recyclates, expressly requiring glass to be separately collected to 'significantly improve the quality and reduce the contamination in many collection systems that mix glass to the detriment of all other materials’ use'.

Other recommendations

As well as the recommendations for a Resource Management and Circular Economy Act, the RA also suggest that the next government could:

  • introduce a new Resources Industry Infrastructure Action Plan that identifies the next actions needed on recycling market development;
  • set a target for overall increase in recyclate tonnage reprocessed in the UK by 2025;
  • look into potentially legislating on minimum recycled content levels in key product streams, ‘prioritising those most urgently in need of underpinning with legislation such as plastic bottles’;
  • invest in tackling domestic waste crime and illegal exports of waste;
  • review the Packaging Recovery Note system for producer responsibility for packaging and packaging waste to ‘create fairer trading conditions for UK reprocessors’;
  • review public procurement rules to identify and remove barriers to the procurement of recycled products, and establish minimum standards guidance for procurement of resource collection services;
  • commission an independent review of product design in relation to barriers to recyclability, and identify a ‘route map to recyclability’;
  • establish the case for the early introduction of an incineration tax to move waste management further up the waste hierarchy; and
  • consider changing the measure of waste management success from recycling targets to residual waste per capita, reuse per capita, and carbon emissions.

Manifesto ‘reflects the need and depth with which policy in this area needs review and rejuvenation’

Speaking after the release of the manifesto, Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive of the Resource Association, said: “There have been growing demands across our industry for stronger leadership and fresh momentum in policy development in resources management. 

“Our ‘Manifesto for Resources 2015’ is a significant shopping list of policy measures, but it reflects the need and depth with which policy in this area needs review and rejuvenation. 

“As an indicator of what may be needed if we are to meet the challenge and potential of the circular economy and develop the jobs, growth and better resource use we know our industry can deliver, it is a call to action for future Members of Parliament and the incoming government, regardless of its political colours and complexity. We challenge them all to be bold and seize the prize of resources, jobs and growth in a circular economy.”

Read the ‘Manifesto for Resources 2015’.

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