#RTF22 | Policy changes needed to help reduce consumption, says WRAP

At Resourcing the Future (RTF22), the chair of WRAP, Julie Hill, said policy changes are needed to “unlock the barriers” preventing the industry from encouraging reduced consumption and increased recycling.

Speaking at the Resourcing the Future (RTF) conference – a partnership conference between CIWM, WRAP, the ESA and INCPEN – Hill (pictured above) spoke about the issue of over-consumption and the importance of tackling it now. When proposing a solution she said that action has to start with government policy, noting waste and consumption barely featured on the COP26 agenda last year.

Hill said: “England is not setting targets for resource productivity and consumption. To still be talking about the weight of waste after all this time means we haven’t moved forward very much when we have the tools to do so.”

Consumption overall is the debate we need to have. What we need to show is that low carbon, less resource intensive lives are better lives

“We can all do our advocacy more forcefully. We have to be clear about the conditions for success, which include policy frameworks. Businesses in this sector need certainty from policy in order to invest. Behaviour change can be successful but it will only go so far before it hits walls that only policy can unlock. 

“We need EPR accelerated; we need taxation; we have the tools but we need to get on with using them. We need to talk about what has been implemented to discuss what’s happening now and ask if it’s been a success.”

Ministerial address

Day 1 of RTF22 kicked off with a DEFRA keynote from Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Agri-Innovation and Climate Adaptation). 

In using less and reducing waste we’re contributing to achieving net zero, Churchill said. “We want to make recycling easier. The resources and waste strategy roadmap will turn our make, take, and throw linear economy into more sustainable models.”

Waste is the “mirror to society”

The theme of consumption continued through to the vibrant keynote delivered by Mark Shayler (pictured above), Founder of Green Ape, who said we need a “revolution” in business models to combat over-consumption and waste.

He told delegates that waste is the “mirror to society” and that we are what we consume and throw away.

He said the resources and waste sector need to reposition themselves so that rather than simply dealing with what “society throws your way”, it needs to tell business what they “can and can’t put into society.”

Moving up the hierarchy 

In the second session of the day, the panel explored a series of case studies on how reuse can be successfully implemented in a variety of settings. The discussion continued to cover the importance of reducing consumption but expanded to look at the potential for reuse to unlock barriers preventing real positive change.

Rebecca Trevalyan, Co-Founder and Partnerships Director, Library of Things (LOT) offered an insight into the project which seemed to resonate with many in attendance. LOT started as a 3 month experiment but has evolved into a popular community scheme where people can rent and return household items instead of buying them.

80% of household items are used less than once a month

LOT uses a self-service off-the-shelf system that’s installed in reuse shops, climate actions shops, libraries, and community action shops. The organisation is commissioned by councils and is growing its following rapidly.

Trevalyan said: “Consumerism isn’t working.” She went on to highlight that 80% of household items are used less than once a month. LOT offers a flexible service to its users that not only saves money but reduces waste too.

Tackling the global issue of waste

During the same session, Michelle Wilson, Circular Economy Network director at WasteAid, spoke about waste as a global issue. She highlighted that WasteAid’s vision is a world where waste causes no harm and people are empowered to recover its value.

She spoke about how poverty has driven the circular economy as a necessity in many countries they work in, as people can’t throw away items, they have to reuse them. 

When asked about schemes and actions she has seen in the countries WasteAid works in, she’s surprised isn’t done in the UK. Wilson told the audience how she was impressed with African investment in recovery and the culture around recovery.

Send this to a friend