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Manufacturers call for better waste strategy in face of looming resource crunch

Waste & recycling news – by GreenWise staff
9th January 2012
Amidst growing concerns of a looming resource shortage, UK manufacturers are calling on the Government to set out a clearer, more ambitious strategy on waste and resource management in England.
The call comes from manufacturers’ body EEF, which published a report today criticising the Government over its commercial and industrial waste strategy, saying it fails to tackle out of date legislation, limited access to waste facilities and a looming resource crunch. Underpinning its call for more ambitious action, EEF released a survey of its members, which reveals 80 per cent now regard a shortage of raw materials as a risk to their business.

"Global demand for resources [is] expected to soar in the future and manufacturers [are] already rating raw material shortages as their biggest risk," EEF head of Climate and Environment, Gareth Stace, said. "Government policy has gone some way towards recognising these risks but to date it has not gone far enough."

The EEF report comes six months after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) published its Review on Waste Policies. Although, it welcomed the review at the time, the EEF said today it does not go far enough.

"We now need a more ambitious approach, which involves a resource strategy for the UK, simplified legislation and an improved infrastructure involving better access to local authority recycling," said Stace.

In its survey of senior manufacturing leaders, EEF found two thirds said shortages of raw materials was now a top risk, while one in six companies said it was a brake on growth.

Resource management
According to the Government, resource efficiency could save businesses £18 billion. But in its report, the EEF points out the Government has failed to set out how these savings are to be made and has not shown the same ambition for England as Wales and Scotland have on 'zero waste’ policies and regulations.

The EEF argues a long-term resource management strategy would both lead to competitive opportunities for manufacturers in resource efficiency as well as reduce the amount of waste the UK exports. Due to infrastructure shortfalls and market forces, 15 million tonnes of waste is currently exported, half of which is scrap metal. A resource strategy could ensure more of these resources are captured for domestic use, the EEF said.

Waste legislation
Meanwhile, current UK waste legislation, it said, was 20 years out of date and too complex to navigate. An up to date 'better regulation’ and smarter policy framework would both enhance commercial opportunities whilst protecting the environment, the manufacturers’ organisation said.

Thirdly, the EEF said there was a lack of convenient and affordable recycling facilities for businesses. It said it wanted local authorities to do more to help businesses recycle and said the voluntary Business Recycling and Waste Services Commitment, recently announced by the Government, did not go far enough in this respect. EEF said it wanted to see the commitment to be part of national policy aimed at firms of all sizes. It also said it wanted the Responsibility Deal between the Government and waste management companies to help not just small businesses, but large ones as well.

Last year, business group the CBI launched its own report on waste policy,’Making Ends Meet: Maximising The Value of Waste’, which also highlighted the need for an ambitious industrial and commercial waste policy to reduce the amount of rubbish sent to landfill and provide growth opportunities for businesses. 

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Manufacturers call for better waste strategy in face of looming resource crunch
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