A raw material shortage is threatening the UK and government must act, a coalition of businesses and environmental organisations said today.
The letter from the Materials Security Working Group, which includes Friends of the Earth and manufacturers’ association EEF, warns of significant consequences for the British economy if government fails to develop a more robust strategy to keep raw materials moving.
Increased demand worldwide and the destruction of ecosystems are putting pressure on supply chains and will increase cost substantially, the group claims. The cost of raw materials has increased significantly in the last decade following almost a century of decline; prices are predicted to escalate as another three billion people join the ever-expanding global middle classes.
The coalition states that a wider variety of materials, from rare metals used in electronic and low carbon technologies to everyday resources such as plastic, rubber and metal will rise in cost in the foreseeable future.
EEF head of climate & environment policy Gareth Stace said: “We live in an age where global demand for resources is surging with prices on an upward trend and concerns about shortages mounting. 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.”
Four-fifths of senior manufacturing executives believe that limited access to raw materials is a risk, a recent EEF survey found. A third of companies state this is their biggest worry.
The organisation is demanding:
• 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
• A ban preventing recyclable materials being sent to “energy from waste” plants and landfills unless there is an environmental and economic case for doing so
It says there is a vital need for ministers to establish safeguards to protect jobs, the environment and the economy.
Friends of the Earth resource campaigner Julian Kirby said: “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.”
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