After years of the same from the Department that deals with waste within government, we may now be seeing a real shake up of this ‘stuck in the mud’ area, for the benefit of the environment and business.
One of the first things that Caroline Spelman (Environment Secretary) did in her new post within Defra, was to call for a full review of waste policy. This is welcome, as for too long government has listened too much to the waste industry and been too afraid of Brussels to really be bold on how the UK views resource use and waste.
Waste policy affects all manufacturers and is still seen by EEF members as a biggest environmental issue to their businesses. Ahead of the election in May, the Tories were committing themselves to simplifying waste policy, to enable businesses to see value in materials that are discarded. With the focus more on resource use, rather than on waste at the end of the line.
The Defra Waste Review is due to be published within the next week and will really give EEF a chance to influence future UK resource management policy. Yes I said resource management policy and not waste, as waste is the wrong word here. EEF believe that government must now develop a Resource Management Strategy.
I believe that the politicians wish this to happen, but I am less convinced that Defra Officials are willing to ‘break the mould’. At a BIS meeting yesterday (26 July 2010) on the Waste Review, I challenged a senior Defra Official for the narrow focus of only thinking about waste within the review, rather than looking wider, namely, resource use. His reply was that he sees the Waste Review as only looking at waste and anything wider than that would be too much. My clear message to Defra is that it needs to think much wider.
This may be all academic, as I believe we saw a struggle for power at this BIS meeting, between Defra and BIS, as to which department is driving the debate on waste. There was much discussion in the corridors of the meeting, that waste policy should be moved from Defra to BIS. I can see the merit in this view and certainly believe that the two departments must work closer together here, with new blood bringing in a fresh view of what could be achieved if government has the will.
In a paper published in November 2009, EEF called for the following (link below):
- A clear and long-term resource management strategy.
- Waste legislation and guidance must be simplified to allow business to fully contribute to sustainable waste and resource management
- Facilitate speedy delivery of the necessary infrastructure and services to facilitate the recovery of useful resources from all waste streams.
- Provide targeted advice and support to encourage business resource efficiency through eco-design, process re-engineering and R&D funding.
- Encourage resource use optimisation across product/material life-cycles by the government’s ability to stimulate demand for resource efficient products.
The findings of the government review will be published in Spring 2011.
WasteStrategy2007twoyearsonFINAL_pdf_.pdf (76.50 kb)