RESOURCE ASSOCIATION WELCOMES NEW DEFRA REPORT ON RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: A TIMELY PLATFORM FOR ACTION AND LONG-TERM LEADERSHIP

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Resource Association, the trade association for the reprocessing and recycling industries and their supply chain, today welcomed the publication by Defra of new analysis that identifies the resource management industry as an engine of green growth in the UK economy.  Their report, Resource Management: a catalyst for growth and productivity was accompanied by a letter from Resources Minister Dan Rogerson MP to key industry bodies including the Resource Association seeking views and an industry response in terms of future actions.

Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive said:

“We warmly welcome this analysis from Defra, it is a useful re-assertion of the value of the resource management industry to the UK economy and we hope it will act as a reminder across Government of both our industry’s value and future potential.  Acknowledging that we presently face a period of turbulence and uncertainty, whether that is due to the resources policy hiatus in Europe and at home, or to commodity prices, or to Eurozone uncertainty, or indeed all three and more, we must use the period of uncertainty to look ahead and refresh our long-term ambition.”

“With that in mind, we offer three key points in response to the report:

First, the United Kingdom’s active engagement with the revisions that will come from the European Commission to European law on waste, resources and the circular economy is essential.  Meaningful dialogue with stakeholders on what ‘greater ambition’ should mean is vital, and we should take the opportunity presented to come at this with an ‘all options are possible’ approach, not just to recycling targets but to the whole package of potential around product standards and eco-design, common definitions and reporting and fiscal instruments and ensuring that we are serious about the role for reuse, repair and remanufacturing.  In Europe we must lead and shape, not be on the sidelines.

Second, although the report highlights the contribution of domestic reprocessing we believe it understates the potential for further growth.  UK export of recyclables is undoubtedly a British success story (even allowing for issues around illegal shipments of waste) but also means that in some instances potential to add value to product is being lost to overseas manufacturers.  Reprocessor added value to raw material input (in the manufacture and onward sale of new recycled products) can be at least fivefold the input cost of recovered material. If even a quarter of the £4.35bn worth of materials exported in 2013 were to be re-shored in UK manufacturing this could add at least £5bn to UK GDP and significantly improve the already positive figures for GVA/tonne.  We call on Defra to consider further research in this area as part of the forward programme following this important report.

Third, this potential to generate green growth through UK manufacturing using recovered resources needs refreshed impetus and intervention to stimulate home markets for recyclates.  Defra has a credible and well established delivery mechanism in the shape of WRAP, and we believe the time is right for Defra to refocus the resource it makes available to WRAP back onto the unfinished task of recycling market development that WRAP was originally founded to facilitate.  As a starting point, fresh research should be undertaken to establish a new baseline for where the potential for manufacturing growth may lie, the barriers to success and a new route map for the R&D, standards work, product testing, feedstock quality sourcing and other work that will be needed to deliver more manufacturing capacity.”

Association Chairman Peter Clayson concluded:

“In all these areas, the Resource Association and its members stand ready to work with Defra to support their ambition for resource management.  All three actions highlighted require leadership from Government but also require the industry to respond and engage, which we are keen to do.  The report is a great foundation for action, and we hope that it may become an annual feature of the Defra programme and turn into a ‘state of the industry’ exercise that continues to catalyse and move us towards a more circular economy.”

ENDS

NOTES:

  1. The Resource Association focuses on championing the value of UK reprocessing and recycling in terms of employment, resource efficiency and integrity, carbon reduction and our role in the low-carbon, green economy.  It works with Governments across the UK, the European Commission, other trade associations and stakeholders with shared interests.  Our member companies and organisations represent an estimated £2.7bn contribution to UK GDP, the recovery and recycling of over 7 million tonnes annually and the employment of over 10,000 people.  Further information at www.resourceassociation.com
  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/401453/resource-management-catalyst-growth-productivity.pdf link to the Defra report