A version of this article was published on Business Green.
The forthcoming industrial strategy white paper will set out the government’s plan to boost productivity and drive growth across the economy. If it is to be a success, it needs to grapple with two fundamental changes to the business environment.
Not all of the ten ‘pillars’ of the industrial strategy green paper will make it into the white paper expected by the end of this year. Civil servants working on the final strategy say the innovation, skills, place, business and infrastructure pillars are the ones likely to remain and the content of the affordable energy and clean growth pillar will be embedded across the strategy. If that can be done well it will better than having a standalone chapter, but if it is done badly, it will be a disaster for the UK’s low carbon transition.
The scale of plastic pollution plaguing our oceans is alarming. Eight million tonnes of the stuff is being lost to the sea each year. At least 136 species of marine life are affected by plastic entanglement, and many more still – at least 250 species – ingest plastic pieces that can be a million times more toxic than the water around them. We are one of those species, with European shellfish consumers ingesting around 11,000 bits of microplastic every year. Read more
This post is by Dr Colin Church, CEO of CIWM, the leading institution for resources and waste management, and the chair of the Circular Economy Task Force.
In the resource management sector, when a group of ‘strategic colleagues’ meets up, one of the conversations I’ve often heard around the table is a lament as to why politicians and the media are so focused on carrier bags, or plastic bottles, or coffee cups, or any other single product or waste stream in the news that day. They argue that this is deflecting attention from the holistic and more important bigger picture around resource productivity and the circular economy. Given that several of these specific issues featured in Michael Gove’s first keynote speech on the environment recently, I imagine this conversation is live once more. Read more
This post is by Richard Gower, senior associate for economics and policy at Tearfund. This post first appeared on Tearfund’s policy blog.
In poor nations, millions of people already make their living from ‘circular’ trades such as repair and recycling. The way we design our products in the EU – the toxic chemicals we permit and the ease of repair that we require – has a strong influence over their livelihoods. But these impacts are not currently considered as part of the process for setting design standards.
In 2013, China sent shock waves through the recycling world in the west by launching Operation Green Fence, a campaign that rejected at least 800,000 tonnes of substandard recyclable waste imports and withdrew 247 import licenses. This focused minds in the UK, because we have grown dependent on exports of low quality recyclate, which our producer responsibility system accidentally encourages. Unfortunately, no lasting action was taken to fix the problem, and now things look set to get much worse. Read more
This post is by Libby Peake, senior policy adviser on resources at Green Alliance.
Perhaps the favourite statistic of those advocating for more sharing in our economy is that the average power drill is used for only 12 or 13 minutes over the entire course of its lifetime. This is especially significant as millions of new household power drills are sold in the UK each year, and then simply gather dust in sheds up and down the country. To people thinking about better use of resources, it seems like there’s an obvious problem here, as well as an obvious solution: a nation stockpiling power tools that are hardly ever used ought to share them more. Read more
This post first appeared on BusinessGreen.
The government’s Industrial Strategy consultation closed on Easter Monday. But before we had chance to draw breath, a snap election was called, moving the political agenda on again. Read more
This post is by Professor Paul Ekins OBE, director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London.
There are many reasons to increase resource efficiency in an economy like the UK’s. Among them are the need to reduce pressure on natural resources in a world with growing populations and economies; to reduce the vulnerability to imported material’s supply shocks and price volatility; and to avoid the environmental impacts of natural resource extraction, even where they occur outside the UK. Read more
This post is by Paul Nowak, deputy general secretary of the TUC.
Climate change is the biggest challenge facing the planet. But, for many working people, it can seem a remote issue; one not directly related to their everyday lives. That’s why the TUC is keen to draw the links between tackling climate change and some of the other major themes of our campaign work: rebalancing our economy; investing in the UK’s physical and social infrastructure; and ensuring working people are not asked to pay the price for Brexit.