Policy delays have been worsened by unclear guidance, report claims


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FCC Environment has updated its “Mapping the Politics of Waste” report to analyse the “perceived culture of delay” around the Resources and Waste Strategy.

The report by the UK recycling and waste management company FCC Environment also examines the impact of what it describes as the “persistent political upheaval”, and the upcoming General Election.

The report highlights “significant delays” to consultation responses, such as the over two-year delay for the Consistent Collections policy before it was replaced by Simpler Recycling. It claims these delays have been “exacerbated by unclear or absent” guidance.

FCC Environment says many environmental reform measures have “suffered from lethargic Government action”. The report also says this has led to what appears to be a “subsequent lack of desire” to implement reforms before the next election.

Last year (2022), the Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), Philip Dunne MP wrote to the then Environment Secretary saying that a “culture of delay” at Defra is holding up progress on promised environmental policies.

This updated Politics of Waste report examines how far we’ve come, and how much further we need to go.

The report says that Resources and Waste Strategy details are incomplete, with a further consultation on the new guidance being launched alongside Simpler Recycling. FCC Environment says it expects similar delays and teething issues to continue, and limited “concrete progress” before the next General Election.

FCC Environment says in the report that the loss of momentum appears to be down to Michael Gove moving from Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to Levelling Up, and his replacements seemingly not having similar ambitions. There have been five Environment Secretaries since Michael Gove’s departure.

For many years now Defra has been considered a department for those on the way up or on the way down, the report says. FCC Environment also says there has been an “understandable concentration” of Defra resources on food security issues exacerbated by the Ukraine war, which led to the waste agenda falling down the priority list.

FCC Environment says the Resources and Waste Strategy has fallen down Defra’s priority list.

With the implementation of most of the Resources and Waste reforms pushed back to after the next election, it will be for the next Government to pick up, FCC Environment says.

Commenting on the report, FCC Environment’s Chief Executive Officer, Steve Longdon said: “The last few years have seen uncertainty and crisis stemming from both national and international factors. This updated Politics of Waste report examines how far we’ve come, and how much further we need to go.

“Decarbonising is a matter of choice, adapting to climate change is a necessity. Regardless of whoever is in government after the election, we hope we will see a renewed vigour on environmental policy and a drive towards a circular economy.”

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