The UK’s major waste management companies have written to the government saying they are ready to invest £10bn in the UK’s recycling infrastructure.
In a joint letter to the environment secretary Michael Gove, 12 members of the Environmental Services Association (ESA)’s board welcomed the ‘strong ambition’ of the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy and have offered to help meet the strategy’s targets through investing.
However, the signatories, which include representatives from waste companies such as Veolia, Viridor and Biffa, have warned that the policies the government puts forward must be ‘investment grade’ if the strategy is to be achieved.
‘A key challenge for investment in recycling infrastructure has been market volatility and lack of long-term policy and regulatory clarity. Critical to the success of the new package of measures is the provision of long-term underpinning stability. If this can be secured, then we stand ready to invest a further £10 billion in the next ten years,’ the letter reads.
‘This investment would create 50,000 jobs and the infrastructure delivered would save over seven million tonnes of CO2-equivalent each year, whilst recycling an additional 10 million tonnes of materials and generating an additional 7.8 GWh of heat and electricity.’
The ESA board members have praised the government’s consultations on policies such as a producer responsibility for packaging, a plastic packaging tax and a deposit returns scheme, calling them a ‘bold and exciting direction of travel’ for the industry that they ‘want to help government grasp’.
The companies have stressed their own ‘strong track record for delivery’, having already invested £5bn in new recycling and waste treatment infrastructure this decade.
Concluding their letter, the board members said they hope to build on this record, putting the UK on a path towards a zero carbon and zero waste future.
‘Working together, we believe that industry and government can build the solid foundations we need to make the circular economy a reality in the UK,’ they concluded.
The companies have asked to meet with Gove ‘at the earliest opportunity’ to discuss how to deliver the ‘investment grade’ policy to produce real benefits ‘both for consumers and the climate’.
The letter may prove influential, as the 12 companies behind it employ almost 40,000 people across the UK, running businesses which generate add £2.4bn to the UK economy.
According to the signatories, they have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 85% since 1990, and collectively they recycled over 20 million tonnes of materials last year.
The government published its Resources and Waste Strategy last December, setting out how it plans to double resource productivity and eliminate avoidable waste of all kinds by 2050.