Resources and Waste Strategy: the industry reacts

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
Environment secretary Michael Gove visited Veolia's facility in London

We hear from industry experts to find out what the Resources and Waste Strategy means for them.

Environmental Services Association (ESA)

Jacob Hayler, executive director of ESA, said the Strategy demonstrated the potential of the sector.

“It’s important to understand that policy decisions in this important area can make a real difference to the economy.

“We now have the opportunity to boost recycling and cut waste - creating over 50,000 jobs with £8 billion private sector investment in the process - but for this to happen the high-level ambition in the strategy will need to be turned into detailed actions that matter”

SUEZ recycling and recovery UK

David Palmer Jones CEO of SUEZ recycling and recovery was pleased to see the Strategy demanding better coordination between all sections of the value chain.

He said: “This strategy will empower businesses across the value chain to work together, helping consumers to make sustainable choices regarding the things they buy and throw away.

“We are particularly pleased to see Defra’s backing for a full net cost recovery model of producer responsibility, which outpaces European counterparts, although welcome the fact that businesses will be asked to help determine the detail of this through consultation early next year.

“If done correctly,this could provide better funding for council and commercial waste collection and sorting services, which would improve recycling, while minimising the cost to consumers and tax payers. It should also lead to greater harmonisation of services, which makes life easier for consumers.”


Charlotte Morton, chief executive of ADBA,which has long campaigned for separate food waste collections, was pleased to see them being addressed.

She said: “It’s an absolute no-brainer that inedible food waste should be separately collected so it doesn’t end up wasted in incinerators or landfill and so that the energy and nutrition locked up in it can be reused, reducing the UK’s need for fossil-based energy and fertiliser.

“However, 2023 is a long way off. There are around 70 local authorities with their waste contracts up for renewal in the next three years – for this policy to have tangible effects we need actions from the government long before 2023 to provide funding, guidance and support to LAs to implement separate food waste collections as quickly as possible.”

Recycling Association

Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin believes the Strategy is set to transform the recycling sector.

He said: “We welcome the idea of a modulated fee, so that those who use packaging that is very difficult or impossible to recycle will have to pay most. This should provide an incentive to them to make their packaging more recyclable.

Yet Ellin questioned the lack of detail surrounding funding.

He added: "Although we welcome the previously announced tax on plastic packaging that does not use a minimum 30% recycled content, the Resources and Waste Strategy does not mention how investment will be generated for new UK recycling capacity to provide that recycled content. We hope the consultation on this will address this omission.”


INCPEN CEO Paul Vanston complimented the Strategy’s holistic approach.

“The focus on whole-system changes is welcome including packaging reforms, consistency of councils' household collections, and ways to increase investment in recycling infrastructure.”

He now called for the consultations to keep up with the pace seen in 2018.

“Much of the ‘hard yards’ in delivering the Strategy’s aims is scheduled to take place in early 2019 with the release of four major consultations:implementation of a deposit return system; packaging system reforms and packaging targets for 2020 onwards; consistency of councils’ recycling services to customers; and HM Treasury’s consultation on a tax on packaging items with less than 30% recycled content.”


Chair of LARAC Carole Taylor welcomed the Strategy’s focus on Extended Producer Responsibility.

She said: “The focus of the Strategy in redressing the balance of funding away from the public purse and on to the producers is welcome and does not come a moment too soon.”

LARAC now believes the “devil will be in the detail”, and will assist Defra on its next steps.


Phil Piddington, MD of Viridor, also backed the promotion of the ‘producer pays’ principle to cover the costs of recycling.

“We are pleased to see steps to get plastics producers to include more recycled content in their products, and recognition of the role energy recovery plays in a balanced system.A more consistent approach to council collections and further measures to combat waste crime are also very welcome.”


For Biffa chief executive Michael Topham,new funding was one of the strongest parts of the Strategy.

He said: “This strategy highlights both the emerging opportunities for private investors, as well as promoting new funding support mechanisms through measures like deposit return schemes and reform of the packaging waste recovery note (PRN) system.”

The Waste Zone

Duncan Baker-Brown curator of The Waste Zone at Futurebuild argued the Strategy was short-sighted.

He said: "The Resources and Waste Strategy for England does not unlock the massive potential of waste, and doesn’t go far enough in developing a Circular Economy that could bring huge financial and environmental benefits to the whole UK.

“We can introduce small measures like taxes and bins to change consumer behaviour and charge our manufacturers for using undesirable materials, but there’s so much to be gained from understanding a truly Circular Economy where repurpose and reuse is key."

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