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National Infrastructure Commission to explore circular economy in next Assessment

GO CIRCULAR

National Infrastructure Commission to explore circular economy in next Assessment

The National Infrastructure Commission has announced the topics that will sit at the heart of its next major assessment of the UK’s long term infrastructure priorities, to be published in 2023, following analysis of the current performance of key sectors. - Circularonline

The priorities include a study examining the role of the waste sector in enabling a more circular economy through increasing recycling rates of both municipal and construction waste and identifying the infrastructure necessary to help the waste sector reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions.

The Commission sets this new project in the context of helping achieve the net zero goal and the possible introduction of more stringent rules on waste exports. 

The Commission’s baseline report notes that while greenhouse gas emissions from waste reduced substantially from a high in 1996, they began to increase from around 2015 due to increased incineration for energy.

The trend remains stable, the Commission acknowledges, but “alongside stagnating recycling levels, will make it difficult to achieve net zero emission targets without carbon capture and storage technologies.” 

The report also notes that emissions from energy recovery plants are still significantly lower than landfill and displace emissions that would otherwise be created by alternative forms of electricity generation. 

Social research undertaken for the report indicates that public confidence in solid waste infrastructure meeting people’s needs in the next 30 years has grown from 58% in 2017 to 69% this year.

The same research found that seven in ten respondents agreed that companies should take more responsibility for recycling and disposing of packaging waste, even if it raises the prices of products.

We will now embark on this work – informed by input and insight from industry, political leaders, representative bodies, other organisations across the country and the public – and formulate policy recommendations to put forward to government

The circular economy project join eight other challenges addressing three strategic themes the Commission has decided will frame the second National Infrastructure Assessment: reaching net zero, reducing environmental impacts and building resilience to climate change, and helping level up communities across the UK.

The Assessment will set out costed policy recommendations to government to ensure the UK is ready for future challenges and opportunities, looking ahead over the next 10 – 30 years.

Writing in the baseline report’s foreword, Sir John Armitt, Chair of the Commission, notes that the three strategic themes identified by the Commission “each pose urgent and wide ranging questions. Each draw broad political and public support for their end goal. Each, however, offer few quick wins or cheap fixes.”

We will now embark on this work – informed by input and insight from industry, political leaders, representative bodies, other organisations across the country and the public – and formulate policy recommendations to put forward to government 

Sir John Armitt, Chair of the Commission

A Call for Evidence process has been launched, with interested stakeholders invited to submit data to the Commission to inform work on the topics it has identified.  The Commission will also undertake sector events, regional visits and social research as it develops its recommendations.   

Alongside the recent Budget and Spending Review, the Chancellor widened the Commission’s formal objectives to include an explicit goal to support the transition to net zero and enable climate resilience.

It was also announced that the upper end of the ‘fiscal remit’ within which the Commission must formulate its recommendations has been lifted from 1.2% of GDP a year to 1.3% of GDP – potentially representing billions of pounds in additional investment in infrastructure over the long term.

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