Opinion polls at this year’s Resourcing the Future provided further insight into the policy measures that delegates feel will be important in the future of the sector. CIWM has produced an infographic showing the results.
36% said they felt genuinely engaged in industry discussions about the EU Circular Economy (CE) package
The voting, which took place at the end of each conference session, showed strong support in a number of areas, starting with a thumbs up for the circular economy. Asked if it was a real, economically viable and achievable concept at the end of the Opening Debate, nearly three quarters of the voting delegates said yes.
However, only 36% said they felt genuinely engaged in industry discussions about the EU Circular Economy (CE) package.
Delegates were more divided in their views on how to drive progress towards circular economy objectives but there were some areas of strong consensus. Echoing the growing emphasis in the EU CE package on the deployment of economic incentives by member states, 60% of voters identified tax incentives for resource efficiency as a priority policy mechanism – compared to just 6% who felt that targets would deliver rapid and effective change.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) snapped up 33% of the vote but emerged as a much stronger contender later in the day when a resounding 93% supported the UK following the example of other EU member states in rolling out ERP schemes for more products, such as tyres, textiles and furniture.
Almost two thirds (65%) felt that direct charging at the point of sale for key products and materials would be helpful in engaging consumers in EPR, and over half identified Pay As You Throw and a review of Landfill Tax and landfill bans as important considerations to drive wider behaviour change.
Looking beyond economic incentives, 43% thought EU-wide secondary materials standards would deliver the most rapid and effective change in terms of improving demand for secondary raw materials, with 31% opting for stronger eco-design requirements and, surprisingly, only a quarter of voters going for green procurement.
While green procurement is often seen as a major potential stimulus for market uptake of secondary raw materials, this year’s delegates clearly felt that consistent standards are needed, proposals for which are included in the current draft of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan.
On food waste, almost two thirds of voters believe that mandatory collections will be an inevitable consequence of the EU Circular Economy package and that consumers remain the priority audience for food waste prevention policies.
The Future Of Waste
Putting aside the impending watershed moment on 23rd June, there were a number of serious messages that came out of the conference with regard to the future for the waste and resource management sector whether or not the UK remains in the EU.
Calls for clearer policy direction and leadership from government came from a number of speakers and for the second year running the need for England to have a formal waste strategy to drive performance and investment through both strategic direction and long term policy certainty was highlighted.
The challenges posed by price conditions and volatility in secondary materials markets was another area of concern, impacting on all areas of the supply chain from collections costs through to future infrastructure investment.
Unsurprisingly, austerity was also an ever present spectre, with LARAC Chair Andrew Bird giving voice to the growing concern among local councils about the impact of ongoing public sector spending cuts on frontline waste services. It will, he said, no longer be a case of “doing more with less” but one of doing “less with less”.
Increasingly, any changes to services, such as reducing the frequency of residual collections, will be made with the single objective of saving money; with any resulting increase in recycling being of secondary importance.
*Top picture: Mary Creagh MP chaired the opening session on day two. To watch our video interview with her CLICK HERE.