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RWM Ambassadors call for resource efficiency to play more central role in Industrial Strategy

* RWM-Ambassadors-chart.jpgThe RWM Ambassadors, who champion economic growth through environmentally sound and sustainable methods, have issued a formal response to the UK government's 'Building Our Industrial Strategy' Green Paper (beisgovuk.citizenspace.com) issued earlier this year.

The Ambassadors - a group of leading industry figures from across business, public sector, academia and community groups, chaired by Barry Dennis, former director general of the Environmental Services Association, have called for an open dialogue to further develop the strategy.

In an open letter to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) submitted during the consultation period for the Green Paper, the RWM ambassadors presented three recommendations to inform the future direction of the Industrial Strategy.

1. Resource efficiency - vital to delivering greater economic value. While the Green Paper highlights labour productivity as key to future competitiveness, the RWM Ambassadors believe that this must be complemented by resource productivity for all industries, across the 10-pillar strategy.
2. Green procurement is a central pillar to clean growth, able to deliver both environmental and business advantages, and this concept should be developed much more strongly in the strategy.
3. Within a supportive policy environment, resource productivity in the UK will depend on new technologies and infrastructure capable of supporting more circular resource flows to and through businesses, and such a network needs a new approach to planning.

RWM Chairman Barry Dennis said in the response: "The diverse group of leading industry figures that make up the RWM Ambassadors welcomes the opportunity to input into the Building Our Industrial Strategy Green Paper, and we recognise its importance and links to other policy initiatives. In fact, we see this as the most important current policy initiative from UK government.

"The 10-pillar approach is sound, but we call on the Government to position resource efficiency as a key cross-pillar component. It must be recognised that the way we manage our valuable energy, water, materials and land resources is integral our productivity goals, and to driving our One Planet Living agenda. Resource productivity should be afforded the same priority under this strategy as labour productivity - without it, clean growth is unlikely."

The RWM Ambassadors' open letter to BEIS is intended to start a dialogue with the Industrial Strategy team for future input. The open letter also invites the Minister and the Industrial Strategy team to attend RWM from 12th to 14th September at the NEC in Birmingham, where the Strategy will be a key topic with influencers and innovators from the energy, water, recycling, renewables and waste management sectors.

RWM in partnership with CIWM is the UK's premier event dedicated to energy, water, recycling, renewables and waste management solutions.
A full copy of the Open Letter follows:

"The RWM Ambassadors are a group of leading industry figures from across business, public sector, academia and community stakeholder groups. This programme was launched 3 years ago to help shape the future of the resources and waste industries and act as a positive force for change. We are pleased with the early accomplishments of the group and how they have been received by the communities we work with, increasing dialogue and driving change. The work of the Group continues, adopting a broader view of resources including water, energy and renewable energy and materials. Our objective is to support all businesses to benefit from resource efficiency and resource security.

We have therefore been pleased to note this "Building our Industrial Strategy" Green Paper, and its aim "to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country." We also applaud the approach to improving productivity through actions under the 10 pillars identified, and agree that overall industrial growth and business continuity will depend on success under each and every pillar. We know that as a green paper there is still much work to be done and that this strategy links closely with other Government initiatives including the National Infrastructure Assessment, the Clean Growth Plan, the Defra 25 Year Environment Plan and continued negotiation of the EU Circular Economy Package. We hope through this submission to open a dialogue with the Industrial Strategy team for future input including highlighting the Industrial Strategy at our September 2017 event. We will be writing separately to the Minister inviting him to give a keynote presentation to our audience, and will seek other ways to support development of this strategy. The purpose of this response is to present the three strategy top line recommendations from our Ambassadors' Group and to open that dialogue for further work.

The RWM Ambassadors top line 3 recommendations for the Building Our Industrial Strategy Green Paper on behalf of the resources industries are as follows:

1. Resource efficiency - a vital pillar to deliver greater economic value
Improving productivity is a central tenet to the green paper. Whilst the green paper tends to focus on labour productivity as a key to future competitiveness, we believe this must be complemented by resource productivity for all industries. This is recognised in the "Delivering affordable energy and clean growth" pillar, but we believe that resource productivity is a truly cross cutting priority through the whole strategy - affecting all 10 pillars and all industries - and should be recognised as such in the strategy. Clean growth is the key to sustained growth and we recognise that Government objectives in meeting climate change and environmental commitments are at one with the objective of creating conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow - and will invest in the long-term future of Britain.

World-wide, governments have recognised that through population growth and increased consumption we face a resource-constrained future. The RWM community recognise this and as a group of industries we are working together across the whole resource spectrum - including water, energy and renewable energy, and waste and resources - to help individual businesses and whole sectors realise the potential of resource efficiency on their bottom line, on the environment and in business continuity. We anticipate a future where businesses will need to shift to resource efficient design and processes, and will need to secure raw material feedstocks for the future. We also recognise significant potential for UK export of knowledge, expertise and products into a rapidly growing global market for clean growth. Businesses unable to do these things will not compete successfully.

We are able to build on firm foundations in the UK. Through our events and the community we have built around them we are show-casing success through adoption of "circular economy" principles where businesses themselves have adopted resource efficient design and processes and demand-side initiatives. Government has also been prepared to act through measures such as the landfill tax and aggregates levy. Government has also introduced high level resource productivity measurement through the national waste prevention plan, Including GVA / tonne of resource - domestic and total - which could and should work in parallel with measures for labour productivity.

We conclude that resource productivity should be afforded the same priority under this strategy as labour productivity. Without it, sustainable growth of UK businesses and industries is unlikely.

2. Green Procurement across markets
Our Ambassadors identify this as one of the key pillars in the green paper. At the moment the focus of this pillar is on public procurement. Important as this is, it still represents only a 14% (and falling) share of total UK procurement and spending. We believe the concept of procurement embraces all feedstocks into the economy. As such, this pillar should encompass all sectors and should include demand-side measures to manage and reduce our overall water, energy and physical materials requirements. Within that overall demand Governments should encourage voluntary measures by businesses and whole sectors to procure wisely. That will include more reliance on renewable and secondary feedstock sources.
We also believe that voluntary measures need to be supported through intervention where markets fail or do not yet drive themselves - as we have seen recently in the UK through the secondary plastics markets for example. Interventions such as extended producer responsibility, raw materials levies, variable taxation to favour product repair or secondary material sources or mandatory product design standards would best fit into this strategy through this "procurement" pillar. Many of these measures are already being considered by devolved governments in the UK and are under discussion through the EU Circular Economy Package and our Ambassadors Group would be keen to explore the design and delivery potential of these types of approach.

We conclude that procurement is a central pillar to clean growth, able to deliver both environmental and business advantage, and we would like to see this concept developed much more strongly in the strategy. We would recommend the Ambassadors first report: "Ever Decreasing Circles: Closing in on the Circular Economy" for further recommendations in this space.

3. Infrastructure
We do not yet have the infrastructure, incorporating the right technologies, to deliver a more resource productive future for the UK. We are working closely with the National Infrastructure Commission on their first National Assessment which has identified water, energy and waste / resources as 3 of their first 6 top priority sectors. We see clear and strong links between these two initiatives. We also see important links between the infrastructure pillar and those focussed on encouraging innovation and market entry for new approaches. RWM is working closely with Innovate UK and academia to develop a strong innovation strand to our future business.

RWM Ambassadors also appreciate the importance of secured industrial feedstocks and the need for planned groupings of businesses to take advantage of supply chain synergies - one person's waste is another's feedstock. Unfortunately, our national strategies and policy are delivered through a more local planning system wheras a a broader picture is needed to match availability of secondary and renewable feedstock sources with demands, driving resource efficiency and security . A clear example of such a need is in the market for heat - a key industrial feedstock incapable of being transported across any distance. The RWM Ambassadors recommend a more regional or sub-regional approach to economic development and planning to encourage synergistic businesses to co-locate.

We conclude that within a supportive policy environment, resource productivity in the UK will depend on new technologies and infrastructure capable of supporting more circular resource flows to and through businesses, and that such a network needs a new approach to planning.

Conclusion
RWM welcomes the opportunity to input into the Building our Industrial Strategy Green Paper, and we recognise its importance and links to other complementary policy initiatives. Its 10 pillar approach is sound, and as per our recommendations above we see it important that resource efficiency is positioned as a key cross-pillar component; where resources are better recognised to be all-encompassing: energy, water, materials and land to the larger productivity goal. There is also a need to broaden the view of 'productivity' to include resource productivity and security of supply - which is a business imperative as our industry is the key to industrial feedstock of the future. Finally, the Ambassadors would be delighted to invite the Minister and the Industrial strategy team to attend RWM from the 12th - 15th September at the NEC in Birmingham to show them around and introduce you to the people and organisations helping to drive our One Planet Living agenda. We would also welcome representatives of the Industrial Strategy team to an early meeting of the RWM Ambassadors to explore how we could work better together, and how we can help development of what we see as the most important current policy initiative from UK Government.
With kind regards

Barry E Dennis
RWM Chairman - on behalf of the RWM Ambassadors' Group"

11th May 2017




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