In its Resource Security policy review released today, Labour has set out its position in driving green growth from the waste and resource management sector.

It attacked the Coalition’s 2011 Waste review, arguing it was a “missed opportunity” in terms of encouraging innovation and boosting investor confidence, and suggested progress had stalled in England compared to Scotland and Wales.

“Even with government inaction on waste and resources, the sector is projected to grow at 3 – 4% this year and next,” the paper stated, adding that sustainable economic growth relies on a secure supply of raw materials.

“We cannot afford to simply throw away what could be recycled or returned to use … consumers increasingly expect manufacturers to give thought to how products will be disposed of at the end of their usable life,” the document continued.

Part of Labour’s “new approach” will to be safeguard natural capital, such as soils, mineral resources and rivers by maximising efficiency and minimising the production of what it calls “needless and damaging waste products”.

In referring to circular economy thinking, the document stated: “Government can also do more to help design out waste in the first place. Small changes can make a big difference to the repairability and recyclability of products – but they must be made at the design stage.”

In working towards this, Labour says it will explore the role of government procurement standards to encourage manufacturers to take their environmental commitments seriously.

“We will explore how, as resource security impacts on all aspects of growth, business and the natural environment, we might better coordinate government policy in Whitehall, and encourage and support innovation in designing out waste.”

The document doesn’t commit to introducing any new legislative measures, but hints at the prospect of reviewing England’s current recycling targets which might see them aligned with those of Scotland and Wales, both of which are aiming for a 70% rate by 2025.

The measures outlined in the paper echo much of the comment made by shadow waste minister Gavin Shuker during an interview he gave to edie back in September 2012.

Reaction to Labour’s Resource Security policy review will follow.

Maxine Perella

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