Now the industry has had time to reflect on the Resources & Waste Strategy, the consensus seems to be that it is pretty fair and addresses most of the major issues. While much detail is yet to be painted, the Strategy undoubtably provides welcome clarity on the direction of travel.
As nearly all the key areas require consultation, the likelihood is that we won’t have a fully formed plan with clearly identified requirements for quite some time. In the absence of granularity, businesses may choose to do nothing or unwittingly create an increasingly disparate market through the development of new initiatives which are implemented with only partial knowledge and competitive advantage at their core.
At the recent edie roundtable event hosted in partnership with Helistrat, it was recognised that change was already happening as some businesses try to leverage the reputational benefits of improved environmental performance. Although, it was also agreed that these changes weren’t necessarily the ones that would bring about the biggest environmental improvement. The reality is that any significant change is unlikely to occur until the necessary actions are agreed and legislated for.
Participants in the roundtable also highlighted some key elements of the report which had the ability to bring about change but would need careful consideration prior to being implemented. These included:
This was probably the most discussed part of the Strategy. Broadly, there was acceptance that producers need to cover more of the costs than they currently do. It’s important to recognise, however, that this increased expenditure was unforeseen and therefore unbudgeted. Consequently, the phasing or timing of implementation will be ‘sensitive’. There was strong feeling that such a significant increase in contribution would need far greater transparency that would extend producers greater influence over where money was invested within the resource management system.
This is another point that repeatedly raised its head during the discussion. If we are to be successful, we need to consolidate and adopt a far more consistent use of materials and processes. Ultimately, this harmonisation needs to be at a global level which reflects the international manufacturing and retail markets.
Education & communications
Something that doesn’t ‘jump out’ of the Strategy is the need to improve our ability to bring about behavioural change. This can take many forms, from helping consumers to understand the importance of their actions to making recycling and reuse systems easier to use. There is little doubt we need a far greater and more coordinated approach to communication across the whole of society in recognition that responsibility sits with the individual and not just the corporate.
The Resources & Waste Strategy has the potential to bring about real change and to play an important role in helping develop a more circular economy. For this to happen, we are going to need wide-ranging collaboration across Government, manufacturing, retail, waste management and society as a whole. While the deliverables of the Strategy will take some time, there are certainly some clear indications of how policy is likely to develop and we are already working with our customers to help them prepare for the future. And in doing so enable them to further improve their commercial, environmental and social performance.