Individual governments in the British Isles have been urged to take a co-ordinated approach across national boundaries to meet challenges facing the waste and recycling sector.
A report from the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Professional Perspectives on Waste & Resource Management, says: “We need clear statements on key strategic issues such that industry can plan and invest in the sector with confidence.”
These issues included infrastructure, waste prevention and reuse, compliance and data quality.
Speaking at his inauguration, the institute’s incoming president John Skidmore called for measures to encourage businesses to capitalise on the value of secondary materials and waste-derived energy.
He said: “Governments must help to plan to keep waste and resources working here in the UK and Ireland, and that means working at a larger than local level and through inter-governmental collaboration.”
CIWM says an aim of the report was to collate relevant waste and resource management information from the five British Isles countries but says it was hamstrung by the lack of comprehensive and accurate data available and inconsistencies.
The report says: “This has proven difficult due to differing measurement techniques, reporting periods and criteria used to measure performance; and more bluntly, to the lack of any regular reporting on commercial and industrial wastes. The availability of accurate and meaningful data in the waste sector has been an area of concern for a considerable amount of time.”
A lack of consistency on metrics for assessing such data is also said to be handicapping the priority given to waste prevention and reuse in the five countries.
On recycling matters, CIWM notes the success in boosting recycling rates but the report concludes there is “a significant divergence” in future targets. It calls for policy measures to encourage UK and Irish business to better capitalise on the value of secondary materials and waste-derived energy products.
“These measures must recognise that increased dependency on sending these resources abroad may not be desirable or sustainable in the longer term. There needs to be a serious attempt to map the market demand for these materials in all five countries.”
The report also seeks clearer policies on funding to help infrastructure projects and more effort to address “serious waste crime” to protect law-abiding businesses and operators.
CIWM members took part in an online survey while the report was being prepared and their views have been included. One section asked them to rank 11 factors in order of importance for the successful delivery of waste and resource management over the next five years.
The result was:
- Waste prevention/reuse strategies
- Landfill tax/levy
- Producer responsibility
- Statutory recycling/reduction targets
- Landfill bans
- Behaviour change campaigns
- Sustainable consumption and production agenda
- Zero waste agenda
- Incentive schemes
- Third sector initiatives and Voluntary responsibility deals (joint)
The launch of the report coincided with the inauguration of the new CIWM president John Skidmore, left, head of streetscene services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Skidmore called for more government leadership and said that waste prevention plans required by the Waste Framework Directive offered “a unique opportunity to put in place a long term vision to design out waste by ensuring that the roles and responsibilities at every stage of the product supply chain are recognised”.
“We may need to work with, rather than against, the economic situation in which we find ourselves but there is no doubt that now is the time to be ambitious, to break down barriers, and to formulate a long term vision for waste management and resource use and conservation - not just for the term of one government, not even for the next decade, but for the next 100 years and more.”