22 November 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Manifestos signal ‘radical change’ for waste, says ESA

The executive director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA) has said that the manifesto launches this week from three political parties indicate that “radical changes are on the horizon” for the waste sector.

Jacob Hayler

Jacob Hayler, executive director, ESA

As the 12 December election gets closer, this week saw the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party all launch their respective manifestos which included a string of measures relating to waste and recycling.


Yesterday, November 21, the Labour Party in its manifesto pledged to end the export of waste plastic and also ensure producers “pay the full costs recycling or disposal, encouraging more sustainable design and manufacturing” (see letsrecycle.com story).

Jeremy Corbyn at the launch of Labour’s 2019 manifesto

And, Jacob Hayler, executive director of the ESA today said that despite the party’s position on recycling occupying just three paragraphs in a manifesto exceeding 100 pages, the policies mentioned were positive.

“It is comforting to see that cross-party support exists for full cost extended producer responsibility. This policy, currently proposed as part of Defra’s Resources & Waste Strategy, is a fundamental driving force towards higher recycling rates and a more resource-efficient sustainable economy, and will have a profound impact on the way recycling and waste services are delivered,” Mr Hayler said.

Lib Dems

On Wednesday, November 20, the Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto in London, where it outlined a number of waste-related measures including a 70% recycling target and proposal to end waste plastic exports by 2030 (see letsrecycle.com story).

The party also said it would aim to eliminate single-use plastics in three years and introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for all food and drink containers.

On this, Mr Hayler said: “The Liberal Democrats promise a Zero-Waste & Resource-Efficiency Act to stimulate a circular economy, although their proposals seem a little piecemeal.

The Lib Dem Manifesto was launched on Wednesday, November 20

“The Liberal Democrats pledge to eliminate single-use plastics within three years and introduce deposit return schemes for all food and drink containers among other things. However, it is not clear how these changes are going to be achieved or incentivised, or how these policies will make the UK less reliant on volatile global markets for recycled product.”

Green Party

The Green Party was the first party of the 2019 general election to launch its manifesto.

On Tuesday, November 19, it announced that it would launch a Sustainable Economy bill, which would contain binding targets for recycling and waste management (see letsrecycle.com story).

The Bill, as explained by the party’s joint leader Jonathon Bartley, would ensure the economy functioned within environmental limits by keeping materials and products in use and regenerating natural systems.

Commenting on this, the ESA’s executive director added: “The Green Party manifesto targets product design standards but, uniquely, singles out vehicles and a range of common household items for improvement, aiming for better durability, repairability and energy-efficiency.

Green Party supporters at the London Wetland Centre launch

“Interestingly, it is the only party to set out an intention to encourage a societal shift of ownership model to goods as services, although the manifesto doesn’t say how this would be encouraged or incentivised in practice.”


The Conservative Party plans to reveal its full manifesto later in the month, but has hinted at a number of environmental policies and could also look to end the export of waste plastic.


And, looking ahead to the election next month, Mr Hayler concluded: “It would seem that radical changes are on the horizon for the resources and waste sector regardless of the political colour of the next government.

“ESA Members have promised to invest more than £10bn over the next ten years in the UK, but this is contingent on the right policy framework being in place and, whatever the outcome of the election, it is essential that the new government provides our sector with confidence that these policies will be implemented without further delay.”


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