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Comment: Politics of waste may tip the vote

Let's be realistic. The General Election will be happening on May 5 and waste isn't likely to be a hot political topic over the next month or so.

Health, education, the economy, crime and maybe even attempts to lower the tone through increasingly pseudo-racist debates on immigration will all be prevalent until election day.

But what opportunities does the election hold for the waste and recycling industries?

Well from now on the country will be debating its future. While our industry will be down the pecking order in the national debate, it could well find itself prominent in local campaigns. Issues such as fly-tipping, incineration, location of waste facilities, recycling collection and the environment in general could well influence the future of individual MPs.

In marginal seats up and down the country, MPs will be actively campaigning to hold onto their seats. While national politics will influence many people, they will also look at what their local MP has done for them. It could be that an MP who didn't spend enough time helping residents near to land where fly-tipping has taken place, will lose a crucial few votes.

Or it could be that an MP or candidate who successfully campaigned to have a MRF "not in my back-yard" will gain a few more ticks on the ballot papers.

The election is a chance for voters who are disgruntled for whatever reason to have their say. This is where the waste industry could get a chance to hog local headlines.

But with a record low voter turnout predicted, these individuals with their local issues could be crucial in determining the outcome of the election.

It is also a time for the waste and recycling world to reflect on what and what hasn't be done over the last four or even eight years of this Government.

Undoubtedly, recycling has grown rapidly in this country under Labour, but it could be said that this was because of European Union pressure and legislation.

The record of the Government, like many of its policies, could be said to be mixed when it comes to recycling. There have been successes and failures and much work still needs to be done.

But many in the recycling world will be thinking long and hard about whether Labour, the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats will do a better job in the next Parliament. Some may even be thinking of casting their vote in favour of alternative parties such as UKIP, the Greens or Respect.

Yet maybe this election will be a turning point. With the public becoming more supportive of issue politics rather than party politics, and many young people seemingly fascinated by environmental issues, the future could well see recycling and waste management as issues that hugely matter to the public.

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