Call to create ‘super Wrap’ body to generate value from waste

Waste industry heavyweight Peter Jones has called on the Government to create a super WRAP body that will bring all the main environmental departments together to help generate value from waste and bring leadership on driving investment in renewable energy.

His comments were aired when he gave evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on 7 January. The Committee was examining opportunities in stimulating a bio-economy for the UK. 

Jones, who is chairman of energy firm Waste2Tricity, said that a ‘super WRAP’ (Waste & Resources Action Programme) could focus leading a cross departmental body which could assist in cutting through the “extant blockages slowing down UK progress to a true resource efficient economy”.

He asserted that there was an uncoordinated framework in the UK at the moment. He said different government departments – including the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), Defra, the Department for Communities and Local Government  (DCLG)and the Department of Energy & Climate Change  (DECC) – currently had responsibilities for different areas of the waste and energy sector, which was causing “conflicting economic signals” and is a “paralysis” which is “taking us nowhere”.

Jones said the issue of material flows (input and output of biomass material) was immensely complex. But he said that organisations like WRAP have a track record in analysing data in this area and make “bold” making initiatives. However, he also said: “They are not liked universally. They are seen by the consultancy market as being an arm of Government that sometimes should climb back into a narrower box.”

Jones explained to the Committee: “I am naive enough to think that we might be able to establish a single, core entity to get a grip on this cross-departmental area where none of the individual departments sees this back-end economy – this immense waste of resources – as a key issue.”

He said that an equivalent of a super WRAP bringing together the views of research bodies, the investment community and supply chains could assist in speeding up the UK’s progress towards a resource efficient economy.

He also said the creation of a super WRAP could involve triangulating the views of research bodies such as the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), Knowledge Transfer Network and communications with the four Government departments (BIS, Defra, DECC, DCLG).

Speaking to after the event, Jones said: “The central issue is that of the 600m tonnes of material pumped into the UK production chain each year it is reckoned that less than 3% remains as ‘stock’ after six months – the rest of this is waste (biomass, other carbon, metals and aggregates).

“Of that total around 160- 180m tonnes is biomass and other carbon based product or waste (plastics, fabrics, paper and card). The inbound economy supplying the 60m tonnes of food and non-food products sold at retail stage each year is worth of the order of £350 billion but the outbound waste produced by that system is managed for £12-14 billion in a very wasteful way (ie landfill, recycling, EFW ,waste exports today at the other (back) end of the system.  

“Much of the material is ‘lost’ or routed inefficiently due to distorting subsidies not linked to the most efficient route in terms of resource efficiency.”

Liz Gyekye


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