The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has urged the Treasury to provide leadership in waste and resource policy to drive resource efficiency and boost UK productivity, while the Resource Association has restated its call for ambition on packaging recycling.
The UK has made great progress over the past 20 years in turning waste materials back into resources for the benefit of the economy and the environment, the ESA says. However, the waste and resource sector currently faces a number of “urgent challenges”: landfills are closing at a faster rate than alternative facilities are coming on stream, reprocessed materials are struggling to compete with primary resources, criminal activity is undermining the legitimate industry, and Brexit has cast a cloud of uncertainty over the future of UK waste policy.
“With recycling rates going backwards and investment in new treatment capacity insufficient to replace closing landfills, the industry needs the Budget to help set a clear direction for waste and resources that enables us to plan and invest for the future.”
To help the UK meet its environmental ambitions at minimum cost whilst boosting UK competitiveness, the ESA has highlighted four areas in particular that the government should focus on:
- HM Treasury should explore reforming current Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes to make producers responsible for the end of life of their products, whilst relieving cash-strapped councils of the pressures of rising waste management costs.
- HM Treasury should continue to support the Environment Agency and HMRC to tackle waste crime.
- HM Treasury should consider introducing Green Public Procurement rules in favour of recycled materials to boost recycling in the UK.
- HM Treasury should provide long term certainty that landfill tax will remain at current real levels to help the industry plan and build for the future.
ESA’s Executive Director, Jacob Hayler, said: “We hope the government recognises the potential of the waste and resource industry in tomorrow’s Budget, as well as the urgent challenges we face.
“With recycling rates going backwards and investment in new treatment capacity insufficient to replace closing landfills, the industry needs the Budget to help set a clear direction for waste and resources that enables us to plan and invest for the future.
“These measures will help unlock much-needed investment in our industry which will enable us to deliver green economic growth and thousands of new jobs across the country.”
Packaging Recycling Business Targets
The Resource Association says an announcement on packaging recycling business targets is anticipated, following the consultation exercise with industry that closed on January 6.
Chief Executive Ray Georgeson said: “Alongside our colleagues at Alupro, we called on Government to deliver greater ambition in aluminium packaging recycling targets by choosing their Option 3 and in addition a review of the current 2017 target to recognise that the existing target has already been exceeded and more ambition is required.
“More broadly, we would like to hear the Chancellor acknowledge that British manufacturing and resources industries remain an important part of the future economy and will need attention and support in the same way that more prominent sectors receive from Government.”
“The precedent was set last year with mid-year changes in plastics and glass and we urge the Chancellor to take the same approach.”
The Association has also called for the Chancellor to send a clear signal and message to our industry about our prospects during the Brexit negotiations.
Ray Georgeson added: “More broadly, we would like to hear the Chancellor acknowledge that British manufacturing and resources industries remain an important part of the future economy and will need attention and support in the same way that more prominent sectors receive from Government.
“In many ways, our work is the roots and foundation of the economy, as well as having such strong potential to grow and evolve into a more resource-efficient and employment-intensive circular economy with the right package of measures, incentives and regulation from Government. Early, simple measures could go a long way towards easing pre-Brexit uncertainty for our industry and boosting the prospects for delivering the reversal of declining recycling rates in England.
These could include:
- Action to require greater transparency reporting of the end destination of recycling collected by councils and industry, to refresh public confidence in the recycling process and improve participation rates;
- Modest revisions to the Packaging Recovery Notes (PRN and PERN) system to level the playing field in favour of UK reprocessing;
- A new approach to green public procurement to more systematically favour the utilisation of recycled content to draw through more recycled material into products.”
Ray Georgeson concluded: “There is plenty more we could call for, but if the Chancellor delivered all of this tomorrow he would make me and many others in our industry very happy indeed. I always remain optimistic, but that said, I’m not expecting to be cracking open the champagne.”