Conservative MPs call for overhaul of waste policy
3 February 2014
A group of Conservative MPs has called for the Party to change its stance on waste, under wide-ranging policy proposals published today (February 3) aimed at ‘modernising’ the Party.
In a policy paper – titled ‘Sweating our Assets’ – the 2020 Conservatives group, whose aim is to promote ‘modern, fair and inclusive politics’ within the Party, proposes a series of policies that are intended to create a ‘resource aware, efficiency focused and productivity driven’ economy.
Key among its proposals are plans to ‘redefine’ waste, with the 2020 Group claiming that the waste brief should be moved from Defra to BIS where it would be viewed ‘as an opportunity not a liability’ and create ‘new ideas and new business’.
The group also calls for the government to recognise the reuse and remanufacturing sectors as important commercial opportunities and to bring in landfill bans for plastics, wood, textiles and food waste.
On the redefinition of waste, 2020 Conservatives claim that the remanufacturing sector is being ‘unnecessarily constrained’ by existing legislation and regulations.
The group adds that ‘waste’ as a government policy area should be renamed ‘resources’ and moved under the remit of the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) – stating that the sector will only be encouraged if waste is seen as an ‘economic opportunity’.
It adds: “This would also alleviate the longstanding conflict of interest faced by Defra around the regulatory response for a potential business sector.”
The report states: “By redefining waste as a business opportunity, a new stream of exciting businesses will emerge. There are numerous examples of world leading businesses – from Caterpillar to Kingfisher – who are already extremely innovative remanufacturers, but the sector needs more support in terms of sharing best practice and identifying international best in class.”
Elsewhere, the group proposes that local authorities who retrieve and resell their waste effectively could offer a rebate to council taxpayers, which it claims would incentivise ‘increased, better quality and targeted recycling, providing reprocessors with greater retrieval options for their desired recyclate.’
Finally, it also argues that landfill bans for materials including wood, plastics, textiles and food would avoid landfill costs worth an estimated £1 billion per year.
It adds: “Currently certain products with valuable components, including mobiles, are being diverted from landfill by legislation. This legislation has improved collection and processing systems, and helped to recover the resources, such as indium, gold and cobalt, which are worth more than £6000 per tonne.
“The UK spends £1 billion a year in landfill costs just to dispose of plastics, wood, textiles and food – and in the process destroys these valuable commodities.41 If a landfill ban was introduced just on these products and materials, £1 billion worth of costs would be avoided and a further “£2.5 billion [of] value” would be recovered.”
2020 Conservatives is made up of MPs including current Department of Energy & Climate Change minister Greg Barker, Department for Communities and Local Government minister Brandon Lewis and former Defra minister Richard Benyon.
Commenting on the proposals, Laura Sandys, chair of Conservative 2020’s productivity and efficiency group, said: “Normally productivity means focussing on labour productivity, but this report rebalances the debate from labour productivity to resource productivity. In addition it calls support for a new growing business sector called ‘ReMade in Britain’ – thereby ensuring that resources are regarded as assets with a second and third life.”