The Government is being urged to take action now to prevent UK manufacturers being hit by a looking shortage of raw materials.
The warning comes from the Material Security Working Group, which includes EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, in addition to Friends of the Earth
The group claims that increasing global demand coupled with rapidly degrading ecosystems is already putting pressure on supplies of some raw materials.
The cost of raw materials has risen substantially in recent years, with commodity price rises during the last decade alone wiping out a century-long decline.
Despite recent fluctuations, material prices are projected to escalate as three billion people join the global middle classes, putting pressure on already fragile and depleted ecosystems. In future a greater number of materials – from wood, plastic and rubber to the ‘rare earth’ metals used to make every day electronic products and low-carbon technologies – are likely to be increasingly costly.
A recent EEF survey found 80 per cent of senior manufacturing executives considered limited access to raw materials was already a business risk and a threat to growth.
For one in three companies it was their top risk.
Measures the organisations are calling for include:
The government to set up an Office for Resource Management to deal with the crisis
A task force to review existing targets and recommend policy changes to improve recycling
A ban on recyclable materials being sent to ‘energy from waste’ plants and landfill sites unless there is an environmental and economic case for doing so
EEF head of climate and environment policy, Gareth Stace, said: “Government must now step up its ambitions and produce a bolder plan of action that deals with the challenges not just now but in the longer term.
“This is vital not just from an environmental perspective but to ensure a long term sustainable future for manufacturing and the wider economy.”