Industry reaction to Brexit


The recycling, resources and environmental industries have given their view of the UK voting to leave the European Union in last week’s referendum.

CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said: “The decision for the UK to leave the EU is not what most CIWM Members, or many environment sector professionals, have said they wanted. While it was conspicuously absent from the respective referendum campaigns, there is no hiding from the fact that EU membership has been a strong positive force for the quality of our environment and the associated benefits for our health, wellbeing, jobs, skills, growth and general sustainability.


“Stepping out of the EU brings financial, policy, legal and performance uncertainty which may well threaten a slow-down or reversal of the improvements we have enjoyed in recent years. As sustainable resources and waste management professionals, as an Institution, and as an industry we must now work together to build on what has been achieved to date. This will require leadership, determination and an industry ready to work with Governments – of whatever flavour – to protect what we have and to drive for further improvement. More than ever now, we need forward looking strategies across the UK to support investment and performance in this sector.

“As far as this Institution is concerned, there has never been a more important time for our industry to work together and to use our body of knowledge and expertise to help influence and deliver a new environmental vision for our country.”

Suez Recycling & Recovery UK chief executive David Palmer-Jones said: “SUEZ respects the democratic will of the people and our focus remains with our policy of deriving the maximum value and energy from the waste Britain’s households and businesses produce every day. While the UK renegotiates its EU membership for the years ahead there is a risk of a void at a national policy level. 

“As we transition to a more resource efficient economy, something to which all UK devolved administrations aspire, the waste and resources sector continues to seek vision and leadership from Whitehall.  EU membership for Britain has been a crucial and effective driver of environmental policy and legislation which has seen the United Kingdom transform from being the ‘dirty man of Europe’ to a solid environmental performer. 

“Our industry has a very clear vision and understanding of what needs to be done to ensure that we continue to make environmental improvements with or without EU membership.

“The environmental services industry stands ready to maintain its work with UK policy-makers to ensure that we have a positive future in front of us, and that we build on the environmental gains achieved over the last two decades.

“We will be working closely with each local authority and with all businesses where policy commitment remains high in turning our waste into a resource.”

Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment chief policy advisor Martin Baxter added: “The referendum vote in favour of the UK leaving the EU raises significant questions for businesses, professionals and the wider public on environmental protection policy. 

“In the lead-up to the referendum, IEMA members were overwhelmingly of the view that being a member of the EU is good for business and good for the environment.There was a real concern that environment and climate policy risked being watered down if the vote was to leave. Environment and sustainability professionals will now look to the future with some sense of uncertainty.

“It istherefore essential that the Government gives a commitment that, in negotiating the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, an equivalent or enhanced level of environmental protection and climate policy will be implemented here in the UK. 

“In establishing the UK’s future direction, Government must develop progressive policies for the UK to transition to a low carbon, resource efficient and sustainable economy which delivers real social value over the long-term. It must seize the opportunity to accelerate the transformational change needed to meet long-term sustainability challenges and provide a much-needed boost to UK jobs and productivity.”