SUEZ recycling and recovery will today (29 May) launch its “manifesto” for resource productivity, which it believes forms the basis of a comprehensive strategy that could see £9bn added to the UK economy.
The manifesto covers the origins of waste, how materials are handled, collected, processed and treated and sets out its view on the responsibility of producers to maximise the resource efficiency of their products – notably packaging.
As well as backing a deposit return scheme (DRS) for “on-the-go” packaging and more comprehensive waste reduction targets, SUEZ calls for more recycled content in better-designed packaging, smarter data collection, greater collaboration with business, and a new government department to identify key materials and substances essential for the future of the environment and the economy.
The document, “A vision for England’s long-term resources and waste strategy”, also suggests that products should display a standard form of environmental labelling, similar to the existing EU energy ratings for white goods, to help consumers vote with their wallets and accelerate the change to more sustainable design.
The paper also reveals the findings of new YouGov polling (commissioned by SUEZ) around public perceptions of litter. One-in-four Britons (24%) think that sandwich packaging or fast food containers are the main cause of litter, while 18% believe it to be crisp packets or confectionary items and 14% think plastic bottles are to blame.
These are all consumed “on the go” and SUEZ believes its recommendations, which include deposit return schemes, taxes favouring recycled content in packaging, better design to aid recycling and producers contributing more to the cost of capturing and recycling their products, would have a significant positive effect on eradicating these items in litter, which often ends up in marine environments.
SUEZ recycling and recovery UK’s David Palmer-Jones – “To move from a throw-away society to a circular economy, we must view the materials we consume as precious resources, paid for through natural capital, and capture, reuse and recycle rather than squandering them.”
SUEZ recycling and recovery UK chief executive, David Palmer-Jones, says: “We envisage a revolution, where the notion of ‘waste’ is consigned to the bin and, instead, we truly value the materials flowing around the economy.
“To move from a throw-away society to a circular economy, we must view the materials we consume as precious resources, paid for through natural capital, and capture, reuse and recycle rather than squandering them. Taking care of the environment makes economic sense too and we estimate could add £9bn to the UK economy – placing this issue at the heart of a modern industrial strategy.
We believe innovative new systems will arise to capture, recycle, re-use and re-form materials if packaging manufacturers are required by law to have 50% minimum recycled content in their products and adhere to common design standards.
“Households will be more motivated to recycle if we can simplify and consolidate the country’s kerbside recycling collections to five main systems, and we believe this is possible. We believe new data systems are also needed to track materials from the point of production, to sale, to the bin and back into production – from cradle-to-cradle, not grave.
“Weighing individual businesses and households’ residual waste through a “chip-and-bin” system will help gather this data and could enable more “pay-as-you throw” regimes, helping households and businesses which recycle well to reduce their council taxes or waste collection bills.
“Under our proposals, manufacturers and retailers would also help to cover the costs associated with the separate collection of a greater range of recyclable goods– like coffee pods or pet-food pouches – and would operate refundable deposit systems for packaging, encouraging consumers to bring back on-the-go bottles and cans in particular.
“The UK Government has a golden opportunity to kick-start this resource revolution when we leave the EU and create a sustainable, world-leading, new economic base – and we believe our manifesto provides the tools to seize that opportunity.”
Among policy asks, SUEZ manifesto calls for:
- Minimum recycled content in packaging and all packaging recyclable by 2030, using common design standards
- Products to have sustainability labelling (like energy ratings)
- Phased switch from weight to new metrics by 2030
- Individual recycling targets for local authorities based on range of geographic and demographic factors
- Tax on use of virgin materials in products and VAT relief for repair/re-use schemes
- Public procurement standards to drive repair/re-use
- Greater collaboration between local authorities for recycling and waste management services
- Overhaul of PRN schemes and PRN funds to support recycling infrastructure
- All producers and carriers to collect and share waste data
- Standing Defra committee to review treatment capacity annually
- BEIS to identify materials and substances that are key to Britain’s future economy.