David Palmer-Jones, SITA UK’s chief executive and ESA Chair, discusses the highlights of an “interesting and transformational” year, saying it would be easy to dwell on the disappointments rather than “positive movements”…CIWM Journal Online Exclusive
Last week, the European Commission released its draft plans outlining how Europe can move to a circular, zero-waste, economy over the next 15 years.
The report proposed ambitious municipal recycling targets for EU nations by 2030, building on targets that the UK already looks like it is struggling to achieve, alongside other measures like landfill bans for recyclable materials. This escalation further signals the step change needed by the whole UK marketplace if we are to make this zero-waste vision a domestic reality and keep up with other European nations.
It has been an interesting and transformational year for the resource management industry in the UK, and looking back at major events over the last 12 months, it would be easy to dwell on the disappointing news that Defra was paring back its involvement with our industry, particularly at a time when the national recycling rate looks in more urgent need of revival.
“It has been an interesting and transformational year for the resource management industry in the UK, and looking back at major events over the last 12 months, it would be easy to dwell on the disappointing news that Defra was paring back its involvement with our industry”
However, while we continue to encourage the Government to re-engage with our sector, our industry has clearly taken up some of the slack and is making tangible, positive movements towards helping the UK become a more resource-efficient nation, by placing the circular economy at the heart of our business models for the future while fostering collaboration with our customers, suppliers and stakeholders.
That is why, for me, a key piece of work I would like to revisit on the first anniversary of the CIWM Journal Online, is the Environmental Services Association (ESA) report entitled Going for Growth – A practical route to a circular economy.
This report sets out some of the barriers to achieving greater circularity within the UK and offers practical solutions along the supply chain, from designers through to manufacturers, retailers, consumers and those responsible for returning materials back into the manufacturing process.
Domestically, a circular economy, where the UK increasingly re-uses and recycles the resources it already has, could not only help the UK achieve resource security, but would also generate thousands of new jobs, encourage millions of pounds of investment into the UK and significantly boost GDP in a sustainable way.
But with this opportunity comes the challenge of significantly altering the business models of not only waste and resource managers, but also the companies and organisations involved throughout the cycle, so that each can play their part in maximising the value chain.
Although everyone will need to make adjustments, and must collaborate to affect the step change needed to achieve the European Commission’s escalating targets, the waste and resources industry has an important part to play in this exciting vision for the future. Our industry is the means through which materials and energy can be returned into other productive parts of the economy and our expertise can help redesign the UK’s supply chains to maximise material recovery and the economy’s resilience to the resource crunch of the future.