Leadership from the Government is required to realise the opportunities of the circular economy according to a parliamentary select committee investigating the issue.
The Environmental Audit Committee’s report Growing a circular economy: Ending the throwaway society says that despite the Government recognising the opportunities it has scaled back its work. It should learn from the strategic vision and ambitious targets other countries have adopted, including EU targets for improving resource productivity by 30% and support business in achieving economic and environmental benefits.
The inquiry found there was a range of barriers that need to be tackled to create the conditions for the changes required. The committee recommended reforming taxation and producer responsibility regulations to reward companies that design products with lower environmental impacts and ensure resources are reused.
More Government leadership is required
Photo: Jon Whiles
Recommendations for fiscal measures included introducing differential VAT rates based on life-cycle analysis of the environmental impact or recycled content of products and tax allowances for businesses that repair goods or promote reuse. Like some industry bodies the committee also suggests reforming the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) scheme to include an ‘offset’ or lower charge for products that have a higher recycled content.
It believes the Government should work with industry to set longer warranty periods for consumer products, develop new environmental standards for eco-design and take steps to stop businesses using materials that cannot be recycled when better alternatives exist.
Efforts to improve information about the location of materials should be supported, as well as giving direct guidance to local authorities on what materials are collected and recycled. This should include a ban on food waste to landfill and separate food waste collections.