General Election 2024: SUEZ's Dr Adam Read MBE on policy certainty for the waste sector

Recently, we caught up with SUEZ’s Chief Sustainability and External Affairs Officer, Dr Adam Read MBE. As we’re merely hours away from the next general election, and potentially a new incoming government, we asked what he would like to see from this general election.
General Election 2024: SUEZ's Dr Adam Read MBE on policy certainty for the waste sector
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Recently, we caught up with SUEZ’s Chief Sustainability and External Affairs Officer, Dr Adam Read MBE. As we’re merely hours away from the next general election, and potentially a new incoming government, we asked what he would like to see from this general election

It was no surprise to SUEZ’s Chief Sustainability and External Affairs Officer, Dr Adam Read MBE, that the waste industry didn’t feature in any of this year’s party manifestos. “It's not sexy. It's not a winner,” he explained. “The waste industry has cost people seats in the past, but it hasn't tended to win you a seat.”

Polls have suggested a landslide victory for Keir Starmer’s Labour party, and in recent months Dr Read has had conversations about the potential future of the waste sector, if the polls were to be correct. “I've spent most of the last year engaging the Labour front bench. I gave up with the Conservatives quite a long time ago. Their ability to delay things eventually kind of got the better of me. So, I have spent quite a bit of time with the likes of Ruth Jones, Ed Miliband, Johnny Reynolds and their advisors about where resource management sits in their agenda.”

His message: The policy reforms that the last five years of Conservative rule have brought to bear - “Can you just get them over the line, please?”

Policy certainty for the sector is at the top of Dr Read’s agenda, including:

  • A backtrack on Rishi Sunak’s Simpler Recycling scheme and return towards consistent recycling, which Dr Read says “would have driven better quality” in recycling.
  • Followed by certainty on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which makes organisations more responsible for the recovery and recycling costs of their packaging, and will provide a funding stream for the waste sector.
  • A rethink on ETS: “We provide two functions and power is secondary to treating waste, which is a massive health issue if you don't,” Dr Read pointed out. “So we need a little bit of flex in there somewhere.”
  • A green skills roadmap that gives employers and universities/colleges confidence that investing in green skills is best for their future.

“That's probably plenty for year one,” he said. “If they could do half of that, I'd probably say well done.”

And then Dr Read’s long-term goal: “Can you stop over consumption and get resource efficiency into the UK economy, please?”

Although Dr Read acknowledges that this pretty difficult task won’t be doable for year two, three or even four, he stresses the need for an action plan over the next decade. “Because if not,” Dr Read warns, “we're in the problem that I studied 30 years ago at university” - low recycling rates and overfilled landfill sites. Let’s hope that his messaging is listened to.

Written by Izzy Felton

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