The impending ban on the import of unsorted waste paper and all scrap plastics into China is both a “headache” and an opportunity to improve our domestic performance, Defra resources minister Dr Thérèse Coffey (pitcured) MP has said.
In her keynote address at CIWM’s Presidential Dinner, Dr Coffey covered a range of issues and opportunities facing the sector, including waste crime, the stalling recycling rate in England and the challenge of urban recycling, and the potential for further fiscal measures – including a rise in Landfill Tax – to help drive more recovery and recycling.
Observing that “the secondary materials market does not always function in the most efficient way”, the Minister commented that the move by China to tighten the standards for imported secondary materials is both a “headache” and an opportunity to improve our domestic performance.
“The ban prompts the need for us to improve the quality of recycling here and to have greater capacity to recover and reuse those materials here in the UK”
“The ban prompts the need for us to improve the quality of recycling here and to have greater capacity to recover and reuse those materials here in the UK,” she said.
The dinner, which celebrated the inauguration of CIWM’s 102nd President Professor David C Wilson MBE, brought together some 160 resource and waste professionals, all of whom have a role to play in delivering a new vision for resource efficiency and productivity, the Minister said.
Namechecking the Clean Growth Strategy published last week and the ambition it put forward for zero “avoidable” waste by 2050, she said that the Resources & Waste Strategy due out next year will include policies to maximise resource productivity, ensure more efficient manufacturing processes, and support well-functioning secondary materials markets.
Applauding the principles underpinning the “circular economy” concept, if not the term itself, the Minister also said that other measures for the future include exploring “how we can develop our producer responsibility schemes to better incentivise producers”.
The evening event followed the earlier launch by CIWM President Professor David Wilson of his Presidential Report Making Waste Work: A Toolkit – Community Waste Management in Low & Middle Income Countries Developed by charity WasteAid UK, the toolkit provides practical guidance on low-cost “waste to wealth” technologies which involve minimal capital investment and help communities that have no waste collection services to turn their waste into useful products to sell locally.