The move follows widely documented concerns over escalating risks to the UK’s supply of essential raw materials such as platinum, rare earths and niobium, because they can only be sourced from a limited number of places, are hard to substitute and difficult to recycle.
The paper has been developed and driven by the Material Security Working Group which is chaired by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation an which KTN is a member of. It presents a compelling case for the establishment of an ORM which would be responsible for setting the direction on policy relating to resource security, efficiency and husbandry and providing the data, evidence and support required by policy makers and industry. This would help to Britain’s manufacturers’ stay one step ahead of future supply risks.
The Group, which includes EEF, Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and Friends of the Earth argues that an ORM would allow for greater policy coherence, ensuring a more structured, strategic and co-ordinated response to risks to material supply. This would bring the UK in line with other manufacturing nations, which already have strategies in place to shield their economies from resource risks, leaving the UK lagging behind. Countries such as the USA, Germany, South Korea and Japan are among the manufacturing nations that are already implementing strategies.
The ORM would operate as a centre of expertise and be critical in driving the shift towards the circular economy. The idea of its establishment has already gathered much high-level support and was a key recommendation made by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, in its Materials for Manufacturing: Safeguarding Supply report, published last year. ICE has also long-argued the need for a co-ordinating body, including in its Manifesto for Infrastructure published in February.
Susanne Baker, Chair of the Material Security Working Group and Senior Policy Advisor at EEF, says: “The risk to our material supply is well-documented and it’s clear that the UK urgently needs a coherent, co-ordinated response. The current piecemeal approach is leaving us lagging behind our peers – we are under-prepared, over-exposed and vulnerable.
“Material supplies are crucial to the UK’s wealth and economic stability so there is a clear case for a new Office of Resource Management to act as a central hub of expertise, data and stakeholder liaison and to co-ordinate a viable and sustainable UK response to these risks.
“At the same time there is growing awareness of the benefits of a circular economy – an ORM would ensure that the UK is able to take full advantage.”
Nigel Mattravers, Chair of ICE’s Waste and Resource Management Expert Panel says: “This move to a circular economy will require strategic leadership and coordination, which will be difficult to achieve with the current disjointed nature of waste management policy - split between a number of government departments.
“An ORM should be established to entrench this sustainable ethos across all departments and promote resource management as a driver of economic growth. The next government must take advantage of this opportunity.”
Elaine Gilligan, Friends of the Earth’s Head of Programmes, said:
“As one of the world’s most import-dependent countries, the UK must review its demand for natural resources and take action to boost resource efficiency. This will reduce the nation’s environmental and human impacts abroad and put our economy on a securer footing.”
“The next Government must sort out our woeful record on resources. Establishing an Office for Resource for Management would be a great start.”