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Businesses and environmentalists call on Government to stop valuable materials being burned and buried

The From Waste to Resources: Recommendations for Developing the Resource Security Action Plan outlines the initial first steps that a number of business groups, professional institutes and other bodies believe the government must take to move the Government’s Resource Security Action Plan further.

The bodies behind the paper are: The ADS, British Glass, British Plastics Federation, Confederation of Paper Industries, EEF, Packaging Federation, UK Steel, Metal Packaging Manufacturing Association, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, Friends of the Earth, the Resource Association, Professor Steve Evans (University of Cambridge, Institute of Manufacturing) and the North East Sustainable Resources Board.

The Action Plan contains a number of proposed actions, including to:

  • Commit to better data – “Task the Office of Resource Management to oversee activity on waste data collection to ensure the data collected is fit for purpose and is aligned with the objective to improve resource security”
  • Realign targets to focus on quality as well as quantity – “Establish a task force with immediate effect to review existing targets and policy levers to improve recyclate quality”
  • Consider restricting key materials from energy-from-waste plants as well as landfill – “Review the case for landfill and energy-from-waste bans for key materials “
  • Explore resource efficiency incentives and review producer responsibility regimes – “Consider ways to encourage and reward manufacturers who design for recyclability and durability during the implementation of the recast WEEE Directive; Conduct an assessment of the cost and benefits of reduced VAT rates to boost use of secondary raw materials and the repair and reuse of products; Review how public procurement and whole-life costing should factor in the environmental benefits and cost savings associated services offered by manufacturers with the products they sell; Review progress in achieving the aims of packaging regulations and consider materialspecific policies to target regulation where there are still clear market failures.
  • The Action Plan states that:

    Energy from waste could make a small, but positive, contribution to meeting the UK’s renewable energy demands – particularly anaerobic digestion. Energy from waste can also provide much needed heat and power from the fraction of waste that is not economically or environmentally beneficial to recycle. However, such facilities and technologies must demonstrably avoid competing with upper levels of the waste hierarchy – waste prevention, reuse and recycling/composting – by avoiding creating a demand for waste that could otherwise have been returned to the economy. In an increasingly resource constrained future it makes little sense to burn materials which can be reused or recycled elsewhere.

    They must also be compatible with the UK’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions,
    including the Committee on Climate Change’s advice that the UK must “radically decarbonise” the electricity grid by reducing emissions to an average of 50g CO2/kWh. Current British incinerators emit on average 540gCO2/kWh, even higher than the UK grid average of 500gCO2/kWh. Government leadership is required to ensure highly efficient energy from waste plants is delivered.

    The government has made a commitment to review material bans to landfill and to consult on proposals to ban the landfilling of wood. It is important that bans are not restricted to landfill but also consider diversion from energy from waste plants designed to treat residual waste. If the resource value of priority materials are important enough to divert from landfill it is important that they are diverted to the appropriate treatment and recycling technology.

    Any ban must be accompanied by a sufficiently long lead-in time to allow the waste industry sufficient time to plan and develop infrastructure to manage the material within the UK.

    The Action Plan is available from

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