In parliament: Barriers to the circular economy
The circular economy is in vogue again in parliament.
I have no doubt that this interest will, among other things, produce some good guidance as to where we ought to be going on circularity. But all this is likely to founder on the fact that it means joining together various processes to produce circular rather than linear outcomes, and Whitehall does not do joined-up very well, particularly when it comes to regulations.
Take energy-from-waste (EfW), for example. I remember how the 2007 energy white paper contained initially no reference to the possible contribution that EfW could make to the UK’s energy mix. That’s largely because energy and waste are dealt with by a different government department. That omission has largely been rectified but, even so, regulatory silos continue. I was reminded of this by a report on the burgeoning anaerobic digestion (AD) market. It warned that the built capacity of digestion plants is likely to substantially outstrip available food waste feedstock over the next few years.
That sounds potentially disastrous for the industry, except that AD is doing very well in the water sector, which is increasingly hoovering up sewage sludge. In Southampton, a large sewage AD plant is being developed. On the other side of Solent, useable feedstock is being incinerated and, in Dorset, a farm-based AD plant is contributing electricity to the grid. So perhaps the answer to warnings about scarce feedstock is to combine farm manure, sewage sludge and food waste. Except you cannot do that because the regulations say no. Combining feedstock in this way will require a comprehensive overhaul of regulations, quality protocols for digestate and so on.
So water companies will continue to build AD plants, and waste firms and farms will each build theirs – and some or all will run out of feedstock in the process. Not very circular.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a new 'Green Claims Code' to ensure businesses are not misleading consumers about their environmental credentials.
Over two million hectares of Brazilian rainforest could be legally converted to supply the UK with soy under a new anti-deforestation law proposed by the government, the WWF has found.
In Elliott-Smith v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the legality of the defendants’ joint decision to create the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) as a substitute for UK participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
In R. (on the application of Hudson) v Windsor and Maidenhead RBC, the appellant appealed against a decision to uphold the local authority’s grant of planning permission for the construction of a holiday village at the Legoland Windsor Resort.