Tory MPs call for action on resources

3rd February 2014

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  • Manufacturing ,
  • Management/saving ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Recycling


Joanna Chamberlain

The government should redefine waste, introduce landfill bans and extend the enhanced capital allowances scheme to support a shift to circular economy, say MPs

A group of Conservative MPs is calling on the government to do more to encourage businesses to become more resource efficient and ensure the UK economy is resilient to supply shocks in future.

In a new report discussing the UK's productivity, the 2020 group of Conservatives, argue that the government has to move away from traditional assessments of economic growth in terms of labour productivity and adopt instead measures that link profitability to resource use, such a value per unit of waste reused or energy saved.

"The 21st century global race will not e won by those whose economic model was cast in the 19th century," states the report. "Instead, it is the resource aware, efficiency focused and productivity driven economies that will set the new standard by which competitiveness will be judged."

The group argues that businesses are being hampered in their efforts to recover and reuse materials by the 30-year-old definition of waste used in legislation and call on the government to redefine "waste" so firms can more easily turn waste materials into new products. It also calls for responsibility for waste to be moved from Defra to the business department, which would ensure waste was seen as "an opportunity not a liability".

Other policy measures recommended in the report include the introduction of landfill bans for plastic, wood, textiles and food, which it estimates could save the UK £1 billion in disposal costs, and the extension of the enhanced capital allowances scheme, which currently grants businesses tax relief when buying energy-efficient equipment, to encompass resource efficiency measures and equipment.

The report also concludes that the government should implement more policies aimed at reducing demand on resources. It cites the example of the capacity market being introduced in the energy sector, where organisations will be paid for reducing electricity consumption, and argues that the principle could be extended into the water sector.

"We need a policy framework in place that encourages and supports businesses to drive efficiency through their business models. To date there has been a real lack of vision and ambition and arguably a lack of foresight in identifying the challenges that lay ahead," commented Terry Scuoler, CEO at EEF, the manufacturers organisation, in his foreword to the report.

IEMA's executive director of policy, Martin Baxter, is quoted in the report, saying: "The transition to a circular resource economy, with resource productivity and efficiency at its heart, will require new metrics to measure success. These recommendations shine a light on how we can develop and evaluate progress and shape policy for a sustainable economy."

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