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Forward thinking is the future

Research and development (R&D) is a vital tool in plotting how the UK manages its waste. This is why a forum backed by leading waste management figures, entitled The Forum for Waste and Resources Research and Development (FORWARRD) hopes to bring about a strategic framework within which waste and resources research in the UK can be improved.
In its report, carried out by Golder Associates, FORWAARD says that the forum was founded due to forthcoming changes in legislation that present a major challenge to the UK in achieving a step change in the management of waste. Its solution is that a healthy and effective R&D effort will play an important role in making this step change happen.
One of the projects main aims is to provide the necessary generic guidance to individual environmental bodies to determine priorities on areas such as funding. The report says: The Government is expecting at least 65% of the grants available through the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme (LTCS) to be spent on sustainable waste management. The main problem for environmental bodies is to decide how to allocate funds in the most effective and efficient way. The focus of the project is on generic priorities and the methodology that can be applied by individual funding bodies to tailor their own programme and assessment criteria that align with national needs.
The forum asks four main questions: Where do we need to be? Where are we now? What is the knowledge gap and how do we get there? To answer these questions the forum identified the main legislative drivers, assessed the state of knowledge in the UK by mapping the existing R&D effort and examined knowledge gaps. The forum then prioritised legislative drivers affecting thirteen waste streams and decided that while all the waste streams require action, certain wastes have a greater degree of urgency, therefore providing an indication as to where R&D funding needs to be directed.
The forum also undertook an assessment of existing waste and resources management R&D that revealed that the profile of current research efforts has so far not been coordinated and is not targeted towards meeting the legislative drivers identified as the principal focus of the project.

The R&D dimensions
l Understand: focuses on the understanding of the nature of the waste problem
l Eliminate problem: covers the reduction of waste entering the commercial waste cycle
l Gain benefit: aimed at recovering value from material in the commercial waste cycle
l Minimise impact: Treat and disposefocuses on making disposal practices more sustainable
l Change behaviour: Dissemi-nate, educate and implementaims at projects affecting change in behaviour and practices
FORWAARD has also commissioned, Wastenet (www.wastenet.net)an internet-based search engine that is able to access information on waste management research that is, in the first instance, being undertaken in the UK and aims to compliment the forums push for improving the co-ordination of waste-related research. n

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