CIWM lament lack of waste focus in Defra 5-year plan

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Defra’s 5-year plan has been described as inadequate by trade body CIWM.

Last week, Defra unveiled its strategy for the next few years, but CIWM expressed disappointment at the lack of mentions of waste and resources as well as a lack of emphasis on wider climate change issues.

CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said: “It is not surprising but highly disappointing to see so little on waste in Defra’s plan for the next five years.

“CIWM has welcomed the Government’s focus on tackling waste crime, and we are pleased to see that this remains a priority.

“However, the waste and resources policy agenda is much broader than that, encompassing materials resource efficiency and security, renewable energy, green economic growth and climate change mitigation.

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“In the short term, there are significant pressures on our sector at present – stalling recycling, pressures on UK reprocessing capacity, and challenging recyclate markets to name but a few – that have to be addressed and will require Government engagement.

“In the medium term, we are moving into the critical negotiation phase on the EU’s Circular Economy Package, which will shape the future of environmental policy and legislation across Europe over the next decade and beyond. Whether or not we remain in the EU, this package of measures will impact on UK and it is alarming to see no mention of it in Defra’s plan. This industry requires more evidence of the Government’s engagement on this agenda and reassurance that Defra is adequately representing our sector’s views and interests at the negotiating table.

“In the long term, the UK has, along with nearly 200 other countries, just signed up to the Paris climate change agreement. However, the words ‘climate change’ appear only once, with reference to polar bears. Clearly, the Government’s response to climate change will engage many departments but as the lead department for industry sectors that have a recognised role to play in tackling climate change, Defra’s plan is inadequate.

“The stark picture here is of a department that is utterly depleted in terms of resources, funding and vision. Responding to the Environmental Audit Committee’s recent enquiry on Sustainability and HM Treasury, CIWM said that the view that growth is the answer to current economic challenges is only viable if that growth is predicated on a more sustainable, resource efficient and low carbon approach. This plan won’t deliver – we can only hope that the 25-year environment plan promised later this year by Defra does better.”