Government Must Take Action on Raw Material Shortage

A business group has written to the Government asking it to take urgent action over a looming raw material shortage here in the UK.

The Material Security Working Group (MSWG) includes a broad range of members including the manufacturers organisation EEF and Friends of the Earth.

The group claims that a number of factors are exerting pressure on raw material supplies, including an increase in global demand and the decline of ecosystems.

These pressures are forcing raw material costs up as nations compete for resources and the working group identifies an increasing global middle class population, expected to increase by 3 billion, as a source of demand that will add further to the materials shortage.

EEF members were recently polled on their views about raw materials and a massive 80% of senior manufacturers saw reduced access to resources as a huge threat to their growth.

Back in March the Government published its own Resource Security Action Plan (PDF) detailing the opportunities to use non-renewable resources more efficiently. But the MSWG wants to see more from the action plan.

Gareth Stace, EEF’s Head of Climate & Environment Policy, said:

“Whilst the government’s Resource Security Action Plan was a step in the right direction, it falls short of meeting the challenges we will face when obtaining new resources will become more difficult and costly.”

“Government must now step up its ambitions and produce a bolder 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 a long term sustainable future for manufacturing and the wider economy.”

The MSWG is calling on the Government to create, amongst other things, an Office for Resource Management to sit as a permanent body monitoring and managing the raw materials situation.

They also want the Government to form a task force that will review existing targets and focus on improving recycling through policy change suggestions.

Another important demand is that a ban is enforced on sending recyclable materials to landfills and energy-generating plants unless there is sufficiently good reason for doing so.

Materials such as wood, rubber and plastic are expected to increase in cost in the future, so recycling would play an important part in the reuse of such materials in the manufacturing process.

Julian Kirby, Friends of the Earth Resource Campaigner, said that the UK either buries or burns £650 million worth of valuable materials every year and added:

“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.”

Firms interested in doing more can read our green business advice artilces on The Environmental Policy: The First Step Towards a Green Business and Why Businesses Should Care About Sustainability.

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