York, UK – 19th June 2014 – Despite countrywide waste recycling efforts, it is not possible to eliminate all waste produced in the UK completely. It is, however, possible to use it to produce heat and power, as well as increasingly high value products such as chemicals and materials.
A government inquiry set up to investigate the economic and environmental opportunities to produce useful, high value products has concluded that not enough is being done to turn potential opportunities into reality to grow the UK bioeconomy. It further concluded that a long term strategy and policy was needed to encourage and stimulate the waste-based bioeconomy and that a government minister be given the responsibility for steering the activities needed to ensure that the UK maximises the potential in this area.
In a response to the resulting report, the government have broadly agreed that not enough is being done to make best use of the available resources and that in addition to waste, other feedstocks are also important such as non-food crops, algae and agricultural residues. They have also agreed that a Minister of State for Business and Energy, along with a cross-government steering group will be established to ensure the full engagement of other government departments.
There is also wide recognition of the importance of industrial biotechnology and the already established Industrial Biotechnology (IB) Catalyst in funding research in the use of both domestic and non-domestic waste to produce commercially viable products. The UK is a world leader in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy research and funding should be continued to allow such ventures to continue and thrive. The government will also continue to work to ensure a clearer understanding of the systems which utilise and depend on waste resources and how they can be put to best use.
Dr Adrian Higson, NNFCC’s Lead Consultant for biobased products and co-ordinator of the IB Catalyst, said, “NNFCC has been at the heart of UK bioeconomy development for over 10 years. We are delighted to see the announcement of a cross Government Steering Group capable of guiding the complex policy developments required to stimulate bioeconomy development.” He continued, “NNFCC works closely with Government Departments and the UK’s research and innovation funding agencies, including acting as coordinators of the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst funding programme. We look forward to supporting the work of the Steering Group and ensuring the UK captures the economic, environmental and social benefits provided by the bioeconomy.”