July 18, 2014
The meeting at the UK’s House of Commons, organised by Sandys, the Green Alliance and circular economy conference and exhibition company Resource, was said by Resource to “agree steps towards development of a modern, resource-efficient economy”, with Sandys said to intend to “shake up the waste industry” and introduce a circular economy.
The event saw 100 figures from the waste industry attending “in support of the growth of a circular economy in the UK”, with Sandys stating that “dramatic changes are needed to shift the mindset from ‘waste’ to ‘resource’”, and adding her point of view that “much of [the] government lacks the modern policies we need in a resource-constrained economy”.
Resource added that the meeting was intending to “collat[e] suggestions for how legislation could support and help” circular economy models, and it also helped launch the Green Alliance’s second report on the circular economy, titled Wasted opportunities: Smarter systems for resource recovery. The report suggests “shifting” the government’s weekly bin collection support package, worth £250 million ($426 million/€315.6 million) to a fund which would “support circular economy infrastructure”.
The Green Alliance’s Dustin Benton stated that there was too much “false separation of commercial and domestic waste”, making it “inefficien[t]”, whilst the Alliance’s Matthew Spencer stated this was down to “lazy thinking on localism”. Food recycling formed a large part of discussions, but economic drivers were questioned as perhaps not “large enough yet for businesses to think circular”.
Gev Eduljee, Director of External Affairs at SITA UK, added that legislation and incentivisation “through taxation” would be the “most effective method for government to support a circular economy”, whilst IPPR Research Fellow Mark Rowney noted that “producer responsibility [is] a key missing link”, with the need to “look harder” at the ownership of materials in the cycle.
In the UK government, Sandys noted that resource security “is not a political issue”, meaning that the different political parties share a “consensus” view, with two key areas of focus decided at the meeting: plastics and WEEE waste.
Stephen Gee, Director for Resource, who organised the event, commented: “We were delighted to be able to host this meeting of advocates of a modern economy. It’s clear that [the] government must be active in incentivising companies to do more and in requiring them to collect and recover materials.
“A working circular economy requires unilateral agreement and action, so it was great to witness government engagement in order to understand how legislation can support businesses to become more circular.”
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