ESA outlines vision for sustainable & world leading UK waste & resource management

Metallschrott (Foto: Kroll/

London, UK — The Environmental Services Association (ESA), the voice for the UK’s resource and waste management industry, has set out a vision for the UK’s £11 billion waste and resource management industry. In a new strategy paper titled “Resourceful: Delivering a Strong and Competitive UK Resource Economy”, the ESA has outlined policies that will ensure Britain has a world leading and sustainable waste and resource management network which can be competitive in what is now a global market.

In the paper, which has been prepared in response to Defra’s challenge to put forward proposals for reform, the trade association identifies four main areas for action:

  • Transferring resource ownership from the public sector to product supply chains
  • Building resilient recycling and recovery markets
  • Realising economies of scale
  • Driving waste crime out of the sector

A critical service to Britain’s economy provided

Commenting on the paper, ESA executive director Jacob Hayler said: “The waste and resource management industry provides a critical service to Britain’s economy. Each year, the industry turns over an estimated £11bn, employing around 100,000 people and ensuring that the huge volume of material discarded every day is collected and managed effectively.

“However, as the recent Brexit vote demonstrates, the world is changing and, as a result, the framework which governs the work we do must change with it. The proposed strategy will ensure that Britain has a world leading and sustainable waste and resource management network which can be competitive in what is now a global market and deliver efficiency, increase productivity and employment and, crucially, create economic growth. I believe that this policy paper crafted by ESA in conjunction with the sector will deliver just that.”

Five main benefits

The ESA predicts its proposed reforms will lead to five main benefits of the UK:

  • A private sector-led package of investment in new waste infrastructure worth £10bn1
  • The creation of 15m tonnes of new processing capacity
  • Savings of between £1bn to £4bn to the public purse (dependent on the extent to which the proposals are implemented and further detailed analysis)
  • The creation of 50,000 jobs
  • Potential savings equivalent to between £50 and £250 per household on council tax bills

£260 million to £485 million costs without action

Jacob Hayler added: “Without action, we estimate that by 2020, waste could cost local authorities and businesses an extra £260 million to £485 million per annum. In addition, around 15 per cent of the UK’s current recycling capacity will close during this timeframe, reducing household recycling rates by 5 per cent and leading to the loss of 8,000 jobs. This will result in the UK missing its recycling targets.

Those issues will be compounded by population and economic growth given the expected 10 million increase in the population over the next 20 years, along with 2 per cent economic growth per annum.”

ESA’s recent Circular Economy report ‘Going for Growth – A practical route to a circular economy’, which outlines how a Circular rather than a linear economy can help manage resources sustainably, can be downloaded under

Source: Environmental Services Association (ESA)