Resources Sector Deal could ‘unlock potential’ of industry

The UK Resources Council (UKRC) is asking for input from across the resources and waste industry as it develops its proposal for a ‘Sector Deal’ between the UK resources sector and the government.

UKRC is a group made up of senior figures in the waste and resources industry, including Julie Hill, Chair of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), former Chief Scientific Advisor to Defra Professor Ian Boyd, and representatives from waste management companies Viridor, Veolia and SUEZ.

The group has launched a consultation, open until 26 September, in which it invites individuals and organisations within the sector, as well as from ‘associated green growth sectors’, to comment on the Sector Deal plans before they are put to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) at the end of the year.

View from the conveyor belt at a construction and demolition waste recycling plant
A Sector Deal could boost investment in UK facilities, like this C&D waste recycling plant in Oxford
A Sector Deal, as defined by UKRC, is a ‘collaborative model of working established by the government’s Industrial Strategy, which enables specific sectors to come together to negotiate a deal with the government to boost the earning power and productivity of that sector.’

The process of developing the Sector Deal proposal for the resources industry began in January this year, when UKRC was first set up with the support of trade body the Environmental Services Association (ESA). David Palmer-Jones, Chief Executive of SUEZ UK, is chairing the Resources Council and commented: “The resources and waste sector currently employs a direct workforce of more than 150,000 people, with an estimated 600,000 or more jobs existing in wider circular economy activities such as reuse, repair, leasing and other related activities.

“Through this consultation process, we want to capture a diverse range of these many voices, to help forge a Sector Deal that both defines our sector and fully unlocks the potential of all of us to deliver even more for the environment, economy and society in future.

“We would very much welcome the participation of all groups, organisations and individuals who identify as belonging to the resources sector, and we offer the initial thoughts of the council and working groups, through this consultation process, to start the discussion.”

The “initial thoughts” published by UKRC set out progress so far, including the creation of four working groups within the council, set up to examine ‘critical topics’ for inclusion in a potential Sector Deal: data and design; infrastructure; places; and people.

As the consultation document explains, UKRC envisions a future in which the resources and waste industry plays a leading role in helping the UK towards its 2050 target for net zero carbon emissions. ‘This sector has significant opportunity to generate net environmental benefit and contribute to the restoration and preservation of the UK’s natural capital, through reduced resource consumption,’ the document reads.

The recommendations from UKRC’s working groups have been used to develop five foundations for a Sector Deal:

  1. Business Environment – delivering the conditions required to support the huge investment needed to reach net zero carbon emissions.
  2. Infrastructure – understanding what new products and services will be required to deliver a UK circular economy that isn’t reliant on waste exports and destruction.
  3. Place – understanding the natural best locations for services and infrastructure, which will help to address regional disparities.
  4. People – investing to bring new people and skills into the sector and providing training in other sectors to support the circular economy.
  5. Ideas – creating an environment where innovation and ideas are ‘endemic’, to accelerate the move to full resource recovery.

Consultancy firm Anthesis is overseeing the administration of the consultation and will report back on the outcomes after the 6-week consultation period is concluded. The full consultation document and survey can be accessed on the dedicated Sector Deal website set up by Anthesis, and will be open until 6pm on 26 September.

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