Peers call for ‘waste champion’ to create multi-billion pound economy from waste resources

A Minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills should take a leading role in overseeing waste policies and be a "waste champion", according to a new report by the House Of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

In the report entitled ‘Waste or resource? Stimulating a bioeconomy’, peers suggested that the Government should create a waste champion to take on the job of developing a “brass from muck” bioeconomy – one that could create a multi-billion pound economy as well as create a number of green jobs.

It also calls on the Government to treat waste as a resource and “grasp the nettle and change the way we view waste”.

The Lords Committee slammed the Government over its waste policy. It said: “There is a lack of a clear lead within Government, with responsibilities spread across several Government departments, and inadequate coordination and cohesion.

“We therefore recommend that a Minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is given responsibility for the development of a waste-based, high value bioeconomy. The Minister should be a champion for waste as a resource and should coordinate activities across Government.

“He or she should ensure that a long-term plan, with at least a 15 year horizon, is produced in order to support the development of a high value waste-based bioeconomy.”

It also heard evidence that access to waste resources must be improved. It argued that waste should be collected and treated in a way “that maximises its value as a resource.

The Lords Committee’s call for a waste champion echoes, industry heavyweight Peter Jones’ call for 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.

Jones gave evidence the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on 7 January.

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”.

The report also recommends the following:
· The Government needs to look again at its incentives for certain sectors in this field and not others, and work to make sure the market is not distorted.
· The Government needs to reduce the amounts of waste that are exported – exporting waste generates Carbon Dioxide from UK transport, removes a potential resource from this country and removes the potential for creating green jobs. It’s estimated that we could produce 150,000 tonnes of bioethanol with the waste we exported in 2012.
· The UK needs to look to other countries, such as Brazil, the US and China, for examples of developing bioeconomies.
· The Government should create a more standardized system of waste collection across local authorities in order to maximise the potential of waste as a resource.

Liz Gyekye

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