Environment Secretary Owen Paterson takes case for waste direct to investors

A strong business case for waste was put forward today during a government-hosted summit which brought the investment community together for the first time to discuss how to stimulate growth in the sector.

Defra Environment Secretary Owen Paterson met with key stakeholders in the financial community including investors, bankers and enterpeneurs in a bid to encourage more private equity support for waste management infrastructure.

The waste and recycling sector currently generates over £12bn per year in the UK and is expected to grow by 3% per year – forming a key pillar of the Government’s green economy drive.

“There is a huge global market in waste and recycling and I want to see UK businesses leading the way on this,” Paterson said.

“To make it happen I want to break down the barriers businesses face to ensure they can compete and lead in the global race.”

He highlighted the fact that every year, more than £5bn worth of recycled material is sent abroad for processing instead of being handled in the UK.

“The amount of material being recycled more than doubled between 2000 and 2010 and for the first time more waste is being recycled than going to landfill in England – it is absolutely vital that the UK has the capacity to deal with this growing industry in the future,” he added.

WRAP chief Liz Goodwin spoke at the meeting, which she said offers industry leaders a vital opportunity to discuss the challenges and solutions to unlock economic growth.

“Investment in the sector needs active encouragement through industry engagement. Put simply, this is because there is money to be made from the materials we perceive to be waste,” she told delegates.

Defra research has showed that UK businesses could save up to £23bn through low cost or no cost improvements in the efficient use of resources. In addition, WRAP’s work, between 2008 and 2011, generated £2.2bn of economic benefits to the UK economy.

“From our own experience over a number of years, we know that the finance community wants to finance projects – and we’ve assisted a number of them with finance of our own,” Goodwin said.

“I am really encouraged by the scope of opportunity available to us all. So let’s have less talk of financial insanity. There is a good news story to be had by all – one that is grounded in financial reality.”

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie