If by now you haven’t heard the news the referendum results are in. The leave campaign has been successful and negotiations are now being carried out to make our exit from the European Union a reality.
The vote was a close one, only 1.9% separated leave and remain so whilst the country may not be united behind this result we all must now move forward and work together to ensure we all reap the best possible outcome from a situation many feel is out of their control.
So, what could Brexit mean for recycling and waste management providers in the UK?
At the minute, no one can be sure. Depending on how our Government chooses to implement the split we could face up to two years of uncertainty for all industries. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t take this opportunity to shake things up and really make the changes the industry needs.
If you are personally interested in these things you may have heard reference to a “circular economy” (resource.org.uk). Currently most industries work on a linear economic model (make, use, dispose) whereby large volumes of easy to access, cheap materials and energy are used in many cases beyond sustainable means. The difference with a circular economy comes from attempting to keep resources in use for as long as possible, reaping the most benefits whilst in use and then regenerating materials and products at the end of their service life. The overall aim of a circular economy is to produce no waste or pollution.
Whilst some may argue that doors have been closed with the vote to leave the EU many also see the opportunities that a leadership change could bring. Many leaders within the recycling and waste sector are in the second category, take Jacob Hayler for example.
Mr Hayler is the Executive Director of The Environmental Services Association’s (ESA) and he says “…It is vital for us to make the case for the circular economy within the UK and to highlight the advantages of a strong and competitive resource efficient economy…Once the dust settles it will be absolutely critical for investment in our industry that the government acts quickly to set out the terms of a UK exit and what it means for the waste sector. Regardless of our membership of the EU, there is huge scope for the waste and recycling sector to do things better and for the UK to improve its resource efficiency.”
No one wants to see the environmental improvements made in the last few decades go to waste. David Palmer-Jones who is CEO of SUEZ recycling and recovery in the UK states “Our industry has a very clear vision and understanding of what needs to be done to ensure that we continue to make environmental improvements with or without EU membership. The environmental services industry stands ready to maintain its work with UK policy-makers to ensure that we have a positive future in front of us, and that we build on the environmental gains achieved over the last two decades. We will be working closely with each local authority and with all businesses where policy commitment remains high in turning our waste into a resource.”
As you may be aware the residential recycling service we provide is done so in conjunction with the City of York Council, we are contracted to collect recycling from over 2000 homes in York city centre. At the minute it is not clear what impact the EU referendum will have on statutory services such as recycling, however we are optimistic that with the support of the public and leaders from the industry it will be clear that the provision of recycling facilities and collections will be in demand. The rise of a circular economy would also benefit the industry and the environment as a whole whilst also contributing to the One Planet York ethos.
Please rest assured that we at St Nicks will continue to do our best to promote sustainable lifestyle choices that benefit our environment, individuals and our communities. Leaving the EU will not stop us from doing that. We support the democratic process and will do our utmost to ensure leaving the EU results in a positive outcome.