If the government is bold in its approach to waste policy it could deliver easy wins on climate change targets and energy security.
That’s the view of business group the CBI, which has published a report called ‘Making Ends Meet: Maximising the value of waste’, in which it highlights the benefits of moving to a zero-waste economy.
As well as meeting targets to cut the amount of rubbish sent to landfill and helping achieve climate change goals, an ambitious waste policy could provide growth opportunities for businesses by making it easier for more firms to sell their recyclable waste to other companies as a resource.
It could also encourage councils to share waste and recycling facilities, creating savings.
With 300 of the UK’s landfill sites due to close in the next decade, around 2000 new waste management facilities need to be built by 2020, at an estimated cost of £10bn. With a government waste policy review imminent, the CBI is calling for a cross-department approach and changes to the planning regime to deliver the investment needed in waste management infrastructure.
CBI deputy director-general Neil Bentley said: “We risk missing a trick by not harnessing the huge potential of waste. Rather than being viewed in isolation, waste management should be seen as an important part of the green economy and our growth strategy.
“Ambitious waste policies will allow the government to hit a broad range of its objectives, from cutting emissions to bolstering energy security. We should also be encouraging councils to share recycling and waste facilities, while businesses could be incentivised to sell their recyclable waste.”
But Mr Bentley added that moving to a zero-waste economy will require government departments “working together and thinking outside the box”. He added: “There also needs to be swift action to tackle delays in the planning system. On average, it takes seven years for a waste management company to get a plant up and running, of which four are spent in the planning process. That is not the way to attract investment.”