Use Brexit to define waste and resource policy

A new report has claimed that Brexit creates an opportunity for the government to develop a new approach to waste and resources policy.

Going Round in Circles: Developing a new approach to waste policy following Brexit, published by Policy Exchange, highlights how the EU’s approach to waste and recycling are unclear and badly designed. More importantly, the think tank argues that current policies do not meet the UK’s interests.

Therefore, the report urges the UK government to ‘use Brexit to define our own approach to waste and resource policy’, focusing upon maximising the resource productivity of the UK economy and minimising the carbon emissions and wider environmental impacts of waste management and resource use.

To achieve this, the report recommends that, local authorities should use one of three standardised systems for collecting waste and recycling – simplifying the more than 400 systems which currently operate across England. The government should also encourage innovative recycling plans and promote efficient forms of energy from waste.

Policy Exchange’s Richard Howard, who co-wrote the report, said: “Since 2000, the UK has made significant progress in the way we think about waste – boosting the level of recycling and cutting greenhouse gas emissions from waste.

“But there are still significant issues. For example, households are totally confused about what they can recycle, with more than 400 different collection systems across the country. Since 2011, the UK has spent nearly £1 billion exporting our waste overseas, where it is burned to produce energy – energy we don’t benefit from.

“The EU’s proposed ‘Circular Economy package’ is ill defined and poorly thought through. It focuses too much on the means rather than the ends. The UK needs to take back control of our rubbish and develop a more coherent set of waste policies which better serve UK businesses and households, as well as the environment.”