Category Archives: Resource stewardship

The UK’s new ‘right to repair’ is not a right to repair

This post is by Libby Peake, head of resource policy at Green Alliance, and Ugo Vallauri of The Restart Project.

We’ve all experienced the frustration of a gadget or appliance failing before it should and finding it too hard, too expensive or just too much hassle to get it fixed. In fact, it seems to be happening more and more often, and the government has noticed, saying it wants to address wasteful and aggravating premature obsolescence.

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What’s in store for the next phase of the Circular Economy Task Force

This post is by Libby Peake, head of resources and Tom Booker, policy assistant at Green Alliance.

In 2012, the year we launched our Circular Economy Task Force (CETF), our annual review noted: “Circular economy thinking has begun to influence economic policy in Germany, China and Japan. It is beginning to gain traction in the UK, but we still have a long way to go.”

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It’s about time people were rewarded for recycling properly

When asked what is the one thing people should do to save the planet, natural historian and national treasure Sir David Attenborough has a simple answer that he often repeats: end waste. Speaking to BBC Breakfast last year, for instance, he elaborated: “Don’t waste. Don’t waste anything. Don’t waste electricity. Don’t waste food… treat the natural world as though it is precious, which it is, and don’t squander those bits of it that we have control of.”

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It’s time we recognised that overconsuming resources causes climate change and nature’s decline

In just a few short months this year, world leaders will assemble at two landmark conferences to hammer out solutions to the two biggest environmental challenges facing the planet. The COP15 Biodiversity Summit in Kunming in October will be the first since the 2010 Aichi summit which agreed 20 biodiversity targets (none of which have been delivered). Hot on its heels, the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow in November will be the first major coming together of nations since the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

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The single misuse problem: it’s not just about plastic

This post is by Colin Church, chief executive of IOM3 and chair of Green Alliance’s Circular Economy Task Force.

Single use plastic is evil, or so we are repeatedly told in the media. From ‘Blue planet’ to ‘The war on plastic’, much recent discussion has focused on moving away from plastic. I’m not going to argue that plastic stirrers are a good thing, but ‘plastic bad – all other materials good’ is just too simplistic; I want to make the case for a different approach.

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Ecodesign is a huge environmental success story, it should be expanded

At the risk of being uncool, I get very excited about ecodesign. Specifically, I have great enthusiasm for what it, together with energy labelling, has achieved and what it could do in future. It has been one of the most effective policies at improving environmental outcomes, at the same time as benefiting consumers and driving product innovation. It’s the reason why so many of our everyday appliances are so much more effective at what they do than they used to be. By the most conservative of estimates (the ones produced by the UK government), these measures save the average household £100 a year and cut the UK’s emissions by eight million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in a year.

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The government’s aim to eliminate waste is spot on, now we need to see action

“There’s never actually been a more exciting time to be working in resources and waste”,  according to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, who was speaking at an event we hosted last week. She added: “That’s a strange thing to be saying about waste, but I genuinely think that there are huge opportunities, both for the economy and the environment, that can be harnessed – can be, and need to be – and government is putting in place the policies that we so much need.”

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AD or not AD: what’s the role of biogas in a net zero future?

This post is by Martin Bowman, senior policy and campaigns manager at Feedback.

Anaerobic digestion, or AD, the process of producing ‘biogas’ from organic matter like crops and food wastes, has been presented as the silver bullet to many of the UK’s environmental woes. It promises to do everything from producing green gas for heating and biofuels to providing greener fertiliser for our crops. A recent AD industry conference was boldly titled ‘There’s no net zero without biogas’. The industry is hungry for growth, aiming to build over 100 AD plants per year and, because AD is economically unviable without subsidies, the industry wants the government to pay out millions more to support its ambitions.

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Why would England ditch its recycling targets when waste is such a problem?

Back in March 2018, the government won kudos for reversing its opposition to tough recycling targets included in the EU’s Circular Economy Package. “I want the UK to lead the way in driving global resource efficiency and that’s why, as well as backing the EU’s Circular Economy Package, we have committed to publishing a new resources and waste strategy in 2018,” then Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said. Read more

Scandinavians call their waste incineration ‘crazy’, so why copy them?

Last week, Policy Connect released a report, supported by the cross party Sustainable Resource Forum, looking at waste management and the shift to net zero. It contains several assumptions worth challenging (not least the opening statement that half of England’s waste isn’t recyclable, which is internally contradicted by the statement that the country can recycle 60 per cent of its waste by 2030). But I’ll concentrate here on its main recommendation: that England “should move towards a Scandinavian style approach to residual waste”. Read more

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