Biffa CEO Michael Topham

General Election reaction: Biffa CEO Michael Topham

5 Jul 2024
3 mins
Biffa CEO Michael Topham gives his reaction to the election result and sets out his vision for how we need to work together to deliver on the shared ambition for a circular economy for the UK.

The results of the general election are in. It has been confirmed that the Labour Party will replace the Conservative Party in government, with Keir Starmer as the new Prime Minister. 
We welcome this political stability and look forward to working with the new government on key parts of the manifesto that will support the decarbonization of our sector.
Here, Biffa CEO Michael Topham gives his reaction to the election result and sets out his vision for how we need to work together to deliver on the shared ambition for a circular economy for the UK. 

On the Circular Economy

"We’re pleased to welcome the new Government and look forward to working with them to deliver the ambitious vision of a circular economy. 

"The Government has pledged to collaborate with industry to deliver its manifesto commitments, including a renewed industrial strategy, infrastructure proposals, and ‘green’ economic growth. A stable and clear policy environment with realistic timetables and as much consistency as possible across all devolved nations will be key to allowing the waste sector to invest and innovate.

"Its first priority for the waste sector must be to successfully implement planned policies such as Extended Producer Responsibility, Simpler Recycling, and a UK-wide deposit return scheme for drinks bottles and cans. 

"We also urge the Government to make the Plastics Packaging Tax more ambitious over time, to ban the export of unprocessed plastic waste, and to support the decarbonization of our sector through promoting carbon capture and zero emissions collections. Through these policies, we can ensure that recycling is maximized and that we deal with our own waste properly, here in the UK. 

"With the right policies in place, the waste sector has the skills, capital, and ambition to deliver a circular economy for the UK. Delivering a more sustainable UK waste sector is not easy but represents a huge opportunity. We are ready to support the new Government in rising to the challenge." 

On Fleet Electrification

"The transition to decarbonised energy and transport systems is increasingly urgent, and the waste sector must move to no or low carbon collection fleets.

"Biffa has already started to adopt alternative fuels across our fleet, with more than 94 battery electric vehicles and electric HGVs, and 64 renewable diesel (including HVO) fuelled vehicles, in service.

"A huge obstacle to further decarbonisation, identified by Labour, is the electricity distribution grid. Here we need to up the pace, and we must ensure that costs for grid upgrades are not imposed only on the first to act.

"We also welcome Labour’s commitment to accelerating the rollout of charge points; shared charging infrastructure should be encouraged to save space in metropolitan areas. At all times it is vital that electrical commercial vehicles are given as equal focus as domestic vehicles.

"To support the transition to net zero, we’re also urging the Government to introduce zero-emissions zones, speeding up adoption of electric vehicles, stimulating innovation and investment in new technologies, and improving air quality and reducing noise."

On Energy From Waste

"We welcome the Government’s pledge to make Britain a ‘clean energy superpower’. Energy recovery from waste has a key role to play in this as a cost-effective, low-carbon, option that contributes to the UK’s energy security. 

"However, the capacity needed across the UK’s network of energy recovery facilities (ERFs) is almost in place. The Government should now impose a moratorium on granting planning permissions for new ERFs. 

"Overcapacity in this sector would make it harder to encourage waste to move up the hierarchy into reuse, recycling, and other forms of recovery, such as the development of sustainable aviation fuels from residual waste. 

"In addition, the Government must support the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) at ERFs. This will be crucial to help the waste sector move towards net zero."