England, Scotland and Wales pulling in different directions could also impact businesses post Brexit.
In our response last month to a Government consultation on the country’s future industrial strategy we made clear that the impact of Brexit could mean rising costs for businesses, and that we believe that leaving the EU could result in ‘two tier’ supply chains between the UK waste and recycling industry and those of Europe.
However, the greater likelihood is that Scotland and Wales would forge different directions from England, which again would have a detrimental impact on businesses, consumers and the environment.
There is a risk that product and resource standards in the UK could differ from our European counterparts and other global markets, resulting in the potential for a ‘two tier’ system to develop in the UK.
To a lesser degree, but perhaps more likely, we will see waste becoming devolved in Scotland and Wales. This and/or differences between us and the devolved nations, or us and European countries, would mean increased costs for businesses. Business thrives on continuity and economies of scale. Common supply and product requirements reduce costs for businesses and maintain a level playing field when it comes to competing against global competitors.
We must remain harmonised
If one UK nation adheres to lower or higher standards than the others, the UK’s overall resource efficiency rates could fall, and could lead to higher disposal costs.
For example if we look at the Environment (Wales) Act, and the mandatory requirements that have resulted from it, the impact on businesses could result in market distortions that could become exaggerated if the UK does become aligned on waste policy after exiting the EU. At this critical time for the UK, we must remain harmonised if we are to build our own path for the future of resource management.
Other recommendations made by Ecosurety to the consultation include a call to innovate waste collection systems if businesses are to realistically adopt circular economy models, better alignment of household and business waste collections to realise economies of scale, increasing recycling infrastructure inside the UK, and greater incentives and education for households on how to dispose of data-rich devices securely to help meet WEEE targets.
There are definitely opportunities for the waste and recycling industry upon leaving the EU, but we will need a uniform approach between nations, and also improvements to infrastructure if we are to maximise those.
If you have any questions about these issues please do contact our team on 0333 4330 370 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Innovation and policy director
Robbie is innovation and policy director at Ecosurety. Having spent years building an intimate understanding of the industry’s policies and politics, he uses this knowledge to help shape new legislation and oversees Ecosurety’s growing portfolio of cross-industry innovation projects including Podback and the Flexible Plastic Fund. He has worked closely with Defra during the most recent packaging consultations, outlining the impacts and required transitional arrangements of the UK’s new EPR system and is a member of the government’s Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP). He is also a spokesperson for the company and regularly uses his influence to communicate the importance of environmental responsibility to external stakeholders.
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