In January, the government announced its 25-year plan to improve the natural environment. Part of this included plans to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. Nik Spencer, founder of the HERU, comments below:
“The announcement of the new 25 Year Plan for Nature has left me dubiously optimistic. The plans are admirable and certainly being announced by the Prime Minister herself gives it added credence and puts some of the issues centre stage.
There are numerous excellent initiatives, such as a new Resource and Waste Strategy, the Green Business Council and plans to end all avoidable plastic waste by 2042 but good intentions are one thing, ultimately the devil is in both the detail and the delivery.
Does it put our existing resources centre stage and set out effective ways to utilise them? Not really. Plans for the new Resource and Waste Strategy have already been announced and the actual strategy is due later this year, so we wait with interest to see how it proposes to cut waste, promote markets for secondary materials and incentivise better product design. But within the 25 Year Plan itself, there were no new credible solutions to improving our relationship with resource, waste and recycling.
In terms of plastics, while they grab headlines, this plan itself is not really about presenting a solution for now (we might be biased, but we think the HERU is certainly one) and the fact we will continue to use plastics for many more years is disappointing when I believe there are solutions - brave ones – that could make an immediate impact.
Does this plan put in place better mechanisms to ensure that innovation and innovators find a way to bring their ideas to market? Again, we can only say maybe. The Green Business Council is certainly a welcome idea to “stimulate environmental entrepreneurialism" but we don’t know yet its remit, make-up or focus, so again we wait with anticipation.
The HERU remains a fantastic example of what can be achieved with government support. Last year, we received financial backing from the government via its Innovate Energy Game Changer Fund and since then funding from the Low Carbon Opportunities Programme. This investment has helped us finance further development and trials of the technology, taking it a step closer to production. We need to see more support like this to bring smart ideas and better thinking into better products.
Improving our relationship with valuable resources is so important, particularly as we continue to discard while polluting the land, sea and air. Until now we didn’t have the innovation to utilise these resources to energise our homes and business properties, but this is exactly what the HERU does.
We simply have to make a change, we can’t carry on doing the same thing expecting a different result
With the HERU, I like to imagine one day when our children go to McDonald’s or KFC and as they walk down the drive we shout don’t forget to bring your resource home. That will be a good day.
I truly believe that the UK is a global leader in innovation, sustainability and renewable tech, but continued investment is needed if we are to maintain this position. Does this strategy go a significant way to doing this? The jury is out."