As the beginning of the party conference season draws near, the last before the General Election, political parties are honing down on the key elements they’d like to include in their manifestos. For most of the year each has been drawing attention to issues they’re considering, testing the electorate on different subject matters.
While the big focus from the national media has been on education, the NHS and immigration to name a few, the environment is getting a look in. These days the politicians realise that valuing resources and ensuring they remain in the economy for as long as possible is an economic and environmental issue. Adopting this approach is beneficial to the long-term resilience of the UK economy.
Do does this mean that environmental issues are climbing back up the political agenda? In some quarters yes, as it’s clear some politicians are promoting the positive attributes a focus on the environment can bring. The creation of a variety of jobs from semi skilled through to high value is clear-cut in many quarters. Though the jury is still out on the types of technological solutions people are prepared to back. A recent poll for the Guardian on fracking, showed 60% of the public against fracking in national parks, but it doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. The odds still seemed to be backed more favourably on some traditional technologies than others.
We need to discuss more than just recycling collections
While we’ve made great strides in improving the recycling rate in the UK we still have some way to go to ensure all materials are of a high enough quality to be re-used or reprocessed for future use. And we still have ministers insisting on weekly waste collections when the evidence suggests it’s better to focus on good recycling schemes. As a friend commented to me about her new recycling scheme, ‘once you’ve put everything in the recycling box there’s very little to go in the general bin. You only need this leftover waste collected every fortnight or every three weeks.’
Let’s hope the environmental debate is not hijacked about the frequency of our rubbish collections. There’s too many important subjects to discuss, such as promoting the benefits of waste reduction, developing ways to work with suppliers to realise the opportunities of the circular economy or challenging the ways of the consumerist society. The next six months will see election fever continue. We need to ensure the environmental discussions are not lost among wider issues and when they are debated are the ones that create the best possibilities for the economy and society.