UK must exceed EU on resource efficiency post-Brexit

23rd January 2017

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Electronics ,
  • Other ,
  • Waste


Oliver Smallman

Standards on resource efficiency should match or be better than those implemented by the EU circular economy package to ensure businesses and consumers are not disadvantaged, the Aldersgate Group said.

Launching a report showcasing resource efficiency pilot projects, the Aldersgate Group noted that much of the UK’s policy on the issue has stemmed from EU legislation.

UK businesses wanting to continue exporting goods and services to the EU would need to adhere to the bloc’s revised ecodesign standards, which are currently being developed.

The UK’s resource productivity increased between 2000 and 2014, yet over the same period there has been a decline in physical exports and an increase in imports.

The group suggested that this widening gap is because the UK is becoming more reliant on material production in other countries and is therefore more susceptible to price volatility in commodity markets and fluctuations in exchange rates.

Becoming more resource efficient would boost employment and competitiveness while cutting resource dependence, waste and CO2 emissions, it said. Other countries, including the Netherlands and China, have already embedded resource efficiency into their national strategies, potentially putting the UK at a disadvantage.

The report showcases pilots that ran across the UK and the Netherlands as part of the EU-funded REBus project to demonstrate how businesses and their supply chains can implement resource efficient models.

The project is led by waste and resource efficiency adviser Wrap and includes Dutch government body Rijkswaterstaat, the Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network and the University of Northampton.

The 26 pilots saved the companies involved £4.89m, and reduced materials consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions by 62,619 tonnes and 1,953 tonnes respectively. Based on these results, the Aldersgate Group estimated that, if similar strategies were employed by the electrical and electronic products, textiles, construction and ICT sectors, the UK economy could benefit by up to £76.9bn gross value added.

The Aldersgate Group also recommended:

  • the development of government policy on resource efficiency, backed by all key departments across Whitehall and favouring resource efficient products in public procurement;
  • fiscal incentives to encourage the re-use of materials, such as variable VAT rates that favour resource efficiency goods and services;
  • an improvement of waste regulations to ensure that secondary materials are not classified as waste, as long as a safe, alternative use can be found for them; and
  • better access to finance and technical advice for businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, to drive innovation on resource efficiency.

Steve Wallace, director of the Aldersgate Group, said: ‘The REBus project sets an important precedent that others can follow. The pilots demonstrate that resource efficiency makes business sense and there’s a double-win given the environmental benefits that coincide with the financial gains.’


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Interview: Andrew Winston on the many reasons for hope

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Vanessa Champion reveals how biophilic design can help you meet your environmental, social and governance goals

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

Senior consultant, EcoAct

3rd April 2024

Read more

Around 20% of the plastic recycled is polypropylene, but the diversity of products it protects has prevented safe reprocessing back into food packaging. Until now. David Burrows reports

3rd April 2024

Read more

IEMA presents a digital campaign to share knowledge and inspire action in sustainability

2nd April 2024

Read more

Tom Harris examines the supply chain constraints facing the growing number of interconnector projects

2nd April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close