A paper launched by leading resources and renewable energy company Viridor identifies that current waste management systems in England are no longer fit for purpose. The paper calls for systems to be replaced with a new and ambitious model that moves resource management beyond local authority boundaries, realising the economic potential for British business, manufacturers and public sector bodies.
The paper, launched simultaneously at the Remunicipalisation and Resourceful conferences in London, argues that an aggregated services model is a necessity if we are to build progressive policies in recycling and resources and realise the business, productivity and employment benefits of a developing circular economy.
England’s recycling policy remains largely based on assumptions about resources which reinforce expensive resource management contracts and waste collections based on authority boundaries that are not representative of the value of resources to the national economy.
The report highlights the steps needed to be taken to address England’s current flatlining recycling rate of 44.8% and move to a more circular economy.
Viridor finds that:
• England stands at a crossroads – current waste management systems are no longer fit for purpose.
• Collection and processing systems will need to operate in a more aggregated manner to meet the needs of quality-focused reprocessors and manufacturers.
• Fully-integrated Resource Networks should look to Europe’s largest public/private resource partnership in Greater Manchester which has attracted inward investment from manufacturers and contributes significantly to decentralised energy provision.
• Resource Networks would see local authorities, business and regulators working at scale to deliver efficiencies in real resource management. They have the potential to offer fresh impetus for England’s resources policy, aligning with better regulation, productivity and investment agendas across the UK, and taking advantage of an emerging EU circular economy framework.
To achieve a resource management system that is fit for purpose and available now and in the future, the Government should prioritise the development of fully-integrated English Resource Networks focused on the availability of consistently collected, high quality materials by councils and businesses, and the planning and delivery of infrastructure at city/regional scale.
Chris Jonas, Director of Business Development at Viridor said:
“Resource policy in England stands at a crossroads. Whilst progress in recycling has been a real UK success story up to a point, we now face a future with the potential for significant success or substantial failure.
“Ambitious Resource Networks hold the prospect of boosting British business, building better regulation, improving productivity and creating up to half a million jobs. By contrast, retaining outdated policy and systems based on outdated assumptions will do little other than reinforce linear waste management systems that were designed for a bygone era when collections were based on geographic areas and an overall objective of reducing transport and disposal costs.
“Even now decisions about collections, contracts and infrastructure are still often based on arbitrary political boundaries by authorities and organisations not focused on the value of resources to the UK economy. This situation is made worse by the current pressures on local authority funding which mean that even existing recycling systems are being undermined. There is therefore no doubt that the current resource management systems are no longer fit for purpose.
“Our paper calls for decisive action and illustrates how fully-integrated Resource Networks, focused on the availability of high quality materials rather than local authority boundaries, would have a huge impact in delivering a truly circular economy.
“There is a significant opportunity for England’s politicians to commit to the adoption of Resource Networks that would boost British business, productivity and jobs and position the country as a leader in resource stewardship.”
With next steps for Circular Economy policy currently under review England is well placed to realise the opportunities of an aggregated services model.
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