Waste or resource? Stimulating a bioeconomy - Science and Technology Committee Contents


Chapter 4: Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations

The Opportunity

149.  The information we received indicated that there are likely to be considerable amounts of waste which could be used as a resource in a bioeconomy. There is, however, no single source of this information and it has proved very difficult to get a clear picture of the quantities available for use. In our view, there is therefore an urgent need for improved information on the availability, quantities and quality of waste now and in the future. (paragraph 41)

150.  We conclude that there are promising signs that a waste based bioeconomy could deliver substantial economic returns and support a considerable number of jobs. While there is clearly uncertainty in these predictions, it seems, however, that there is significant promise and the Government, industry and academia should take steps to further characterise this opportunity and ensure its full potential is realised. (paragraph 47)

151.  Although it can be difficult to provide a precise evaluation of environmental impacts, the evidence we received suggested that in general there are environmental benefits from making use of waste as a resource. We conclude that more consistent approaches for analysing environmental benefits are needed so that the size of the opportunity can be better understood. (paragraph 57)

Government strategy

152.  We recommend that a Minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is given responsibility for the development of a waste-based, high value bioeconomy. The Minister should be a champion for waste as a high value resource and should coordinate activities across Government. The Minister responsible should ensure the production of a long-term plan, with at least a 15 year horizon, to support the development of a high value waste-based bioeconomy. This plan should be produced by early 2015. (paragraph 71)

153.  In developing a long-term plan for a high value waste-based bioeconomy, we recommend that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills examines the strategies used by other countries to extract maximum value from waste, both successes and failures, and identifies approaches which would afford the UK the greatest economic opportunity. (paragraph 74)

Research and Development

154.  We therefore recommend that the Research Councils and the Technology Strategy Board should collaborate to ensure that the funding environment nurtures research on extracting high value from waste and developing a bioeconomy in the UK. (paragraph 84)

Information on Waste

155.  We recommend that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills takes steps to ensure that information on both domestic and non-domestic waste streams is collated in a way which enables it to be used as a resource. Information on sources of waste, quantities, composition, location and changes over time needs to be made available in a way which allows industry to make informed investment decisions on how to extract maximum value from waste resources. Industry needs to engage with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as a matter of urgency to agree ways in which this can be achieved for non-domestic waste streams. A clear owner needs to be identified to collate, and make available, such holistic information on waste as a resource. This may be an evolution of the functions of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills should draw upon this improved information in producing the long-term plan for a high value waste based bioeconomy. (paragraph 99)

156.  We recommend that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills takes steps to ensure that consistent approaches to whole systems analysis are adopted to ensure that the environmental impacts of processes and products can be compared effectively. (paragraph 103)

Availability of Waste

157.  The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, in developing a long-term plan for a high value waste-based bioeconomy, should ensure that waste is collected in such a way as to enable it to contribute fully to a high value waste-based bioeconomy. To this end, we recommend that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Communities and Local Government adopt a far more ambitious approach to waste collection in order to ensure that waste is collected and treated in a way that maximises the potential for it to be used as a resource. To enable this, we recommend that local authorities are offered further guidance to enable them to put in place waste collection facilities, and make planning decisions on waste infrastructure, which maximise the value which can be extracted from waste. We recommend that a long-term policy goal should be the creation of a more standardised system of waste collection across local authorities which views waste as a valuable resource. (paragraph 120)

158.  We look forward to this consultation and recommend that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, in developing a long-term plan for a high value waste-based bioeconomy, takes its findings into account. (paragraph 125)

Stimulating Investment

159.  We recommend that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) ensures that sufficient funding is given to knowledge transfer and near market research and that there is adequate capacity in demonstration facilities across the UK. In particular, BIS should regularly review whether the capacity of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult continues to be sufficient to support projects, particularly at later Technology Readiness Levels. In addition, we note that the Green Investment Bank has made a promising start in helping to reduce the risk of high capital intensive projects. To this end, we recommend that successive Governments support its mission. (paragraph 137)

160.  We recommend that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, in producing a long-term plan for a high value waste-based bioeconomy, reassesses the current approach of providing incentives to support specific sectors. The approach to the taxation and incentive structure should focus on providing policy stability, ameliorating market distortions and not inhibiting the extraction of high value from waste. (paragraph 148)


 
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