Recycling and waste management company FCC Environment has launched an assessment of how the UK’s political landscape might affect the waste and resource agenda over the next five years.
The ‘Mapping the politics of waste’ report examines the Coalition Government’s waste policy and the manifestos of the five main political parties on recycling targets, zero waste, the circular economy, resource efficiency and investment.
Under the Coalition Government, waste strategy has developed at a different pace across the UK, with Scotland and Wales making more progressive commitments while policy in England has stalled (See CIWM Journal Online story).
Despite this, issues regarding waste and resources were notable only in their absence during this year’s political party conference season, according to FCC.
FCC Environment commissioned the research because of uncertainty surrounding the waste and resource management industry, particularly Defra’s “step-back” from the sector (See CIWM Journal Online story).
Paul Taylor, FCC Environment – “Whatever the result of the 2015 general election, the industry needs consistency regarding legislative and economic drivers to encourage investment in infrastructure and market growth”
The possible outcomes of a more devolved Scotland, next year’s general election and EU membership are considered in the report and how they could affect waste policy.
Although Scotland’s waste law has already been fully deregulated, further devolution may drive even more progressive reforms or result in conflicting priorities. Current polls suggest that there may be another coalition government but its political make-up remains unclear at this stage.
A Conservative-led coalition is likely to lead to further public spending cuts affecting municipal waste collections in contrast to a Labour one, which is expected to push the business case for waste.
The former would also result in an EU referendum, which could lead to a partial or total exit for the EU and would no doubt have a significant impact on the waste industry, given the influence the EU has had on waste policy in the UK.
Paul Taylor, FCC Environment’s CEO, commented: “Whatever the result of the 2015 general election, the industry needs consistency regarding legislative and economic drivers to encourage investment in infrastructure and market growth.
“It’s the responsibility of the waste management and resource sector to work with the existing framework of regulations to drive up recycling and energy recovery rates. However, too much regulation of the industry will stifle competition and damage the long-term viability of the sector.”