There is a saying that ‘all good things must come to an end”, which as a stalwart recycler I have always struggled with – after all, good things can come round again. However, in some regards the statement is a truism borne out by experience. As I write this, we are just tying up the final closure details for the Resource Association, something I deemed to be’ a good thing’ back in 2011. That opinion hasn’t changed, even if the world has moved on considerably in the early part of this century. Back in 2011 we had visions of helping to create a UK resource efficient materials economy for the 21st century, one which realised material value, prized quality and sought to maintain the integrity of the secondary materials were too commonly treated as waste. And whilst that vision is not fully realised, a huge shift in the public’s attitude towards ‘the environment’ has begun and numerous policy changes (perhaps policies unthinkable back in 2011) are in the makings. The current UK political outlook may be uncertain (election pending as I write), but the global drive for change (ongoing COP25 in Madrid as I write) and the public appetite for change are unstoppable.
In its time the Resource Association scored some notable successes in driving forward the agenda on supply change transparency through the End Destinations of Recycling Charter and defining the case for high quality recycling through ReQIP. It remains my hope that other value chain partner associations will continue to take these agendas forward.
As a company, Novelis – the world’s largest recycler of aluminium will continue to do our part to lead our industry in line with the company’s mission of “Shaping a Sustainable World together”. It is my belief that Circular, permanent materials like aluminium have an important role to play in a lower carbon and low waste future, but for that to work effective stewardship needs to be in place. In essence we have a circular material that is capable of going ‘round and round’, but for that to happen each actor in the material life cycle is as important as the next – so as a value chain must continue to collaborate to provide the infrastructure, education and funding for a sustainable system to operate.
In that regard, perhaps reprocessors like Novelis have a clearly defined role. For local authorities, material handlers and retailers continued innovation and adaptation will be needed as policies like EPR and DRS play out in the coming years. Underlying the formation and work of the Resource Association was the recognition of the strength of full value chain collaboration. So following on from that, Novelis and no doubt other reprocessors will continue to foster that collaboration with LARAC and others. And that’s something I also deem to be a ‘good thing’.