The waste and recycling industry in 2014 – UNTHA UK’s hopes for the year
In December of last year, UNTHA UK’s managing director Chris Oldfield was asked about his hopes and expectations for 2014, plus he was given the opportunity to share how he would change the industry this year if he had ‘the power’.
Read his views below and why not let us know your own thoughts?
In 2014 I hope….
…that Chancellor George Osborne will review the policy relating to landfill tax, so that the escalator will continue.
Introduced by the Treasury in 1996, landfill charges have risen by £8 per tonne, per year, since 2008. However, under current proposals, the escalator will be capped this year at £80 per tonne, until 2020. I think it is crucial that the Chancellor reconsiders this stance. Whilst landfill tax avoidance should not be the only driver for recycling – especially if it impacts ultimately on hard-pressed households – it cannot be disputed that the escalating charges have made traditional disposal an unattractive option. It has been one of the biggest catalysts of change for councils and waste operators.
With further progress still required in the UK, if we are to meet EU targets, the escalator should not stop now.
In 2014 I want…
…the environment to come before party politics. The Government needs to develop a long-term strategy, that is consistently committed to, regardless of who is in power.
There must be a greater realisation of the economic prosperity and security, that a smarter approach to resource efficiency can bring. The Government should think about the full product life cycle not just waste. We only have to look to our continental European neighbours to observe the benefits that joined up thinking can achieve.
The person/people/organisation that could make the biggest difference in 2014 is…
…the Government. Strong, defined and unified leadership at a Government level, could really boost progress in the UK. I truly believe that legislation drives innovation.
There is so much waste, resource and energy potential yet to be realised. However, most organisations will only take action if it is commercially advantageous or if they are legally obliged to do so. There are very few companies that will change their behaviours purely for altruistic reasons.
The Government needs to develop a long-term vision, that continues to evolve irrespective of who is in the cabinet.
If I had the power to govern the English waste and resources sector, my first act of 2014 would be…
…to develop more direct recycling obligations for businesses, to better tackle the production of C&I waste.
The financial crisis of recent years has created a number of challenges for businesses, so I appreciate that, as we begin to recover, we do not want to generate many more hurdles to overcome. However companies need to take more responsibility for the waste they produce.
Over the years, pressure to comply with EU regulations has driven councils and waste collectors to instigate change. This has filtered down into households, meaning more and more individuals are starting to segregate and recycle their ‘rubbish’ as a result. ‘Pester power’ from children has also played a huge factor here – youngsters learn about recycling in school and encourage their parents to think about their commitment to sustainability in the home.
Producers of cardboard and WEEE for instance, also have regulations to abide by. However, for general businesses, the obligations are not as strong – the responsibility is passed instead to the waste operator. Companies need to demonstrate greater consideration for the waste hierarchy, and make serious attempts to reduce, reuse and recycle.