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Picking winners

14th January 2014 Posted by

Two years ago, SITA UK published a document called ‘Driving Green Growth’ , which aimed to help Government understand the potential of the waste and resource recovery industry.

We listed the potential opportunities, which included:

  • Investment of £20-£25 billion
  • 84,000 direct and indirect new jobs
  • Millions of tonnes of resources recovered and reinserted into the economy
  • A 10 per cent potential contribution to green energy production targets

We were not alone, with Friends of the Earth, Defra, National Grid and WRAP among a number of other organisations pointing out the huge potential benefits.

Since then, our industry has been delivering on those promises, invested billions of pounds in building the required new facilities and has employed thousands of people to staff them.

We continue to increase the volume and type of materials that are recovered and returned to the resource economy, and we are increasing our contribution to the nation’s energy needs through our secure and predictable sources of energy production.

We are on the journey, but we still have a long way to go.

Conversely, the fracking industry is in its infancy and, whether or not you agree with shale gas extraction in the UK, one thing is clear – that Government believes in it and is putting a lot of support behind that belief.

Considering the obvious benefits of the circular economy, of recycling, of resource recovery and energy production, I wonder wistfully what our industry might, and could still, achieve if we had the same level of Government support that the fracking industry currently enjoys.

I’m not suggesting that the potential of shale gas should be ignored, because we must have a proper and complete debate and let facts and priorities talk for themselves.

But why can’t Government give the same level and intensity of support to the green economy? To see what we are delivering with its current support, think what could be achieved!

Instead we have the reverse, a withdrawal of support, as funding cuts to Defra and the Environment Agency reduce the resources they can use to help us.

Government support can deliver far more than it costs to provide it, and would enable us to achieve more than we can in its absence.

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