Scientists press for waste to be used as UK resource

14th December 2017 | Commercial Energy

Top government scientists recommended that the exporting or disposing of waste should end. The lack of support for exports comes in a government-funded report which describes “waste” as an “enormous opportunity” in terms of resources, and promotes the idea of more recycling or reuse of materials within the UK. But while it has been published by government, the report repeatedly says that it is not government policy.

The comments come within a study, “From Waste to Resource Productivity” published 14 December. Some 15 months late, it has been published without comment or fanfare by the two government departments involved – Defra and the Government Office for Science.

However, some of its ideas and thinking are likely to filter through to ongoing work by Defra and to next year’s waste strategy.

Sir Mark Walport, former chief of the Government Office for Science, who headed up the report, offers some strong words on the exports of waste. He says, “A major theme of this report is that we need to stop thinking in terms of waste and focus instead on how we make the most of our resources. There are big opportunities for the UK to become a more prosperous and secure society by increasing our resource productivity. That will also mean breaking our reliance on imported products and jettisoning an approach to waste that focuses on its disposal or export.”

Three documents have been published. One is a 45 page main report, From Waste to Resource to Productivity. The second is a 22 page document with a similar title which contains evidence and case studies. These have been contributed by experts from across the waste and recycling sector, including from CIWM, ISAW and LARAC. Defra appears to have already listened to recommendation one of the report which is a call for a new waste and resources policy – this is now expected in early 2018. The department’s chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Boyd, co-authored the report with Sir Mark.

More information available on the website below