£2m of valuable materials thrown into landfill or burned every day
AT LEAST £650 million-worth of valuable materials are being thrown into landfill or burned in the UK each year, despite rising costs of natural resources, campaigners have warned.
A coalition of business groups and environmentalists said products ranging from steel, wheat and rubber to “rare earth” metals necessary for making goods such as mobile phones will become increasingly costly, threatening UK productivity.
The coalition, which includes the manufacturers’ organisation EEF and Friends of the Earth, is demanding the government develop an urgent action plan to preserve valuable resources, including policies to improve recycling and a ban on reusable materials going into landfill.
It comes after a survey by EEF found that four-fifths (80 per cent) of senior manufacturing executives thought limited access to raw materials was already a business risk and a threat to growth, and for one in three companies it was considered the top risk.
The groups warned the cost of raw materials had surged in recent years, with increases in prices expected to escalate as three billion people join the middle classes across the world, demanding more consumer goods and putting huge pressure on already over-stretched natural resources.
But hundreds of millions of pounds-worth of reusable materials were being buried in landfill or burned in power plants that generate energy from waste, they said. The groups urged the government to ensure resources are used more efficiently, a move which would create thousands of new jobs, boost the economy and protect the environment.
Ministers should create a new “office of resource management” to co-ordinate Whitehall action on tackling the resource crisis, set up a task force to review targets and recommend policies to boost recycling, and ban recyclable materials from landfill and energy-from-waste plants.
The government’s existing resource security action plan, published in March, did not go far enough, they warned.
EEF’s head of climate and environment policy Gareth Stace said: “Whilst the current action plan was a step in the right direction, it currently falls short of meeting the challenges we will face, where obtaining new resources will become more difficult and costly.
“Government must now step up its ambitions and produce a wider plan of action that deals with the challenges not just now but in the longer term,” he said.
“This is vital, not just from an environmental perspective but to ensure the long-term sustainable future for manufacturing and the wider economy.”
Friends of the Earth resource use campaigner Julian Kirby said ministers must take action to “prevent a growing resource risk becoming a catastrophe for our economy and the environment”.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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