British manufacturers are urging the government to improve the UK’s waste-management strategy to combat the growing threat of a materials shortage.
Industry body EEF has released a report that calls for a new approach to legislation that it says is currently ‘unnecessarily complex, confusing and based on out-of-date assumptions’.
For example, the report — Government’s waste strategy: six months on — points out that the law assumes all waste is sent to landfill, even though less than a quarter of manufacturing waste is disposed of in this way.
‘Waste policy has for some time been the forgotten element of the green agenda,’ said EEF head of climate and environment Gareth Stace.
‘But, with global demand for resources expected to soar in the future and manufacturers already rating raw material shortages as their biggest risk, we must not miss the opportunity to make the best of what we have.
‘Government policy has gone some way towards recognising these risks but, to date, it has not gone far enough.
‘We now need a more ambitious approach that involves a resource strategy for the UK, simplified legislation and an improved infrastructure involving better access to local authority recycling.’
The report argues that the government should work with industry to develop a resource strategy that will enable materials, particularly those in scarce supply, to be reused and to speed up their movement across the economy.
EEF said that such a strategy would make it easier for companies to make the most out of the waste they and others produce, as well as reducing our dependence on imports.
A recent EEF survey of senior manufacturing leaders showed that 80 per cent now regard a shortage of raw materials as a risk to their business.
Of these, two thirds said it was their top risk. In addition, one in six companies said that a shortage of raw materials is now a brake on growth.