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Call for new Office of Resource Management to co-ordinate Whitehall activity on threats to economy

 

The Government must take urgent action on the pending natural resources crisis facing the UK, warned a coalition of business and environment groups today (Monday 20 August).

 

A recent EEF survey found 80 per cent of senior manufacturing executives considered limited access to raw materials was already a business risk and a threat to growth. For one in three companies it was their top risk.

 

The cost of raw materials has skyrocketed in recent years, with commodity price rises in the last decade alone wiping out a century-long decline. The recent rise is projected to escalate as three billion people join the global middle classes, putting pressure on already fragile and depleted ecosystems. 

 

A joint letter from the organisations, which include EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and Friends of the Earth, sent to the Government, warns that if the UK doesn’t develop an urgent and ambitious strategy to keep valuable raw materials circulating within the economy the consequences for UK industry will be severe. It claims materials such as steel, wheat, rubber and the 'rare earths' used to make every day electronic products will become increasingly costly, piling pressure on already fragile and depleted ecosystems.

 

The organisations have also published an Action Plan calling for:

•             An Office for Resource Management to deal with the crisis consistently;

•             A task force to review existing targets and recommend policy changes to improve recycling;

•             Recyclable materials to be banned from ‘energy from waste’ plants and landfills.

 

The group are urging ministers to create safeguards to ensure that resources are used more efficiently to create tens of thousands of new jobs, protect the environment and help revitalise the economy.

 

Commenting, EEF Head of Climate and Environment Policy Gareth Stace, said:

 

“We live in an age where demand for resources is surging with prices increasing and concerns about shortages mounting. Whilst the current Action Plan was a step in the right direction, it currently falls short of meeting the challenges we will face where obtaining new resources will become more difficult and costly.

 

“Government must now step up its ambitions and produce a wider plan of action that deals with the challenges not just now but in the longer term. This is vital not just from an environmental perspective but to ensure the long term sustainable future for manufacturing and the wider economy.”

 

Friends of the Earth Resource Campaigner Julian Kirby, said:

 

“The country’s leading business and environment groups have joined forces to direct a clarion call to the Government - Ministers must take action to prevent a growing resource crisis becoming a catastrophe for our economy and the environment.

 

“The UK buries and burns at least £650 million a year of valuable materials - wasting billions of pounds of business and public money.

 

“David Cameron must address the incoherent approach to resource security his Government has taken so far.

 

“A new Office of Resource Management would ensure all departments create jobs and boost the economy by slashing the waste of natural resources.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes to editors

 

1.                            See the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair’s Resource Security Action Plan published in March here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13719-resource-security-action-plan.pdf   

2.                            A PDF of the Action Plan published by EEF, Friends of the Earth and other organisations can be requested from the Friends of the Earth press office.

3.            See Friends of the Earth’s reports ‘Gone to waste’ here: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/gone_to_waste.pdf and ‘More jobs, less waste’ here: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/jobs_recycling.pdf.

3.                            The organisations involved in the Action Plan and letter to ministers are as follows: ADS, British Glass, British Plastics Federation, Confederation of Paper Industries, EEF, Packaging Federation, UK Steel, Metal Packaging Manufacturing Association, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, Friends of the Earth, the Resource Association, Professor Steve Evans (University of Cambridge, Institute of Manufacturing) and the North East Sustainable Resources Board.

If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.

 

Published by Friends of the Earth Trust