Tuesday, 20 April 2010 12:00 AM
Glass and Government - solving society's issues together
The UK's glass industry employs around 100,000 people in primary, secondary and upstream/downstream activities. It is a vital industry in today's economy, creating a great range of products, many of which we take for granted.
"Take a close look at the window by your desk, the computer screen you use, the mirror on the wall, the bottle of water and the glass you are drinking it from, the jar from which you spread your jam this morning, the lighting in your office, cables, phones, the list is truly endless! These are just some of the everyday items we use, however, glass has so many other beneficial facets to its diversity it could be called the Rubik's Cube of industry. From advanced medical implants to sophisticated art-pieces and from glass bottles and jars to climate change technologies, we cannot take this phenomenal material or industry, for granted."
What can government do to help?
There are 6 key areas: economics, energy, red tape, waste and recycling, climate change, employment and skills.
Recognise that the UK needs flourishing manufacturing sectors such as glass in order to secure future employment and economic growth.
The government must do everything in its power to revive and strengthen the UK's manufacturing base. The causes of the recession have demonstrated that we need a balanced economic portfolio. Measures undertaken could include, but are not limited to: more favourable capital allowances for capital expenditure, better support for strategically important manufacturing industries and better promotion and training to make manufacturing an attractive career choice.
Put forward a precise energy strategy aimed at ensuring security of supply at competitive and stable prices to maintain UK production and attract investment.
The majority of glass manufacturers operate internationally and make global decisions. A secure and stable energy supply will allow longer term planning and bring greater confidence to UK industry.
Rationalise environmental and carbon reduction instruments The EU Emissions Trading Scheme, Carbon Reduction Commitment and Integrated Pollution Prevention Control regulations cover the spectrum of glass related processes in the UK. The current arrangements with the Climate Change Levy mean there is duplication of effort and costs across these areas both for industry and government. Scrapping the CCL and the associated Climate Change Agreements for those companies in the EUETS would still ensure environmental objectives are met, but would reduce red tape and increase the competitiveness of the UK glass industry. Furthermore compliance with the EU carbon taxation rules could be realized at a lower cost to British industry.
WASTE AND RECYCLING
Gear the waste infrastructure and targets towards the quality of waste arising and the closed loop recycling of products as a part of a workable resource efficiency programme.
Local authorities collect different things in different ways - It's confusing and counterproductive. This undermines efforts by manufacturers to create products that will maximise recycling rates. We call on government to standardize collection regimes and work towards basic minimum standards of collection. Steps must be taken to improve the quality of recyclate arising from material recovery facilities and push up overall recycling rates for all glass types, especially closed loop recycling. This would also improve the environmental performance of the glass industry owing to recycled glass requiring less energy to melt than raw materials. Glass is 100% recyclable without any loss of quality and purity and is perceived by many as being the consumer's choice.
Develop policies that promote climate change technologies and avoid carbon leakage.
The glass industry is a key producer of energy saving and renewable energy generating products notably advanced glazing, solar panels, loft and cavity wall insulation and fibre for wind turbines. The UK uses these technologies to contribute towards its carbon reduction commitments. However, there is little encouragement to maintain manufacturing and jobs in the UK of these products. The risk is that the UK imports these products and shifts the CO2 burden to countries with fewer or no carbon constraints. We ask that government promotes manufacture in the UK and that it does not allow manufacture to move to other parts of the world.
EMPLOYMENT AND SKILLS
Help the glass industry to meet its legislative obligations, by raising the competencies of staff through easing funding avenues.
Restrictions on funded training place a burden on businesses, especially SMEs. Real apprenticeship schemes which are easy for businesses to access and implement would help the glass industry assist government in meeting their targets of bringing more young people into full-time employment and reducing the number of young people who are not in any form of education, employment or training.