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ICE wants major UK waste strategy change

A new report suggests that by changing the way the UK treats its waste, we could prevent 17 million tonnes of harmful CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere each year.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) estimates in ‘The Case for a Resource Management Strategy’ that a £10 billion investment spent wisely on recovery centres would lead to a significant reduction in the UK’s CO2 emissions.

Such centres could provide an efficient ‘one stop shop’ approach to waste management, involving recycling, energy from waste, biological treatment and mechanical sorting.

ICE Waste Management Board vice chairman Peter Gerstrom said: “Given that the Government is reviewing its waste strategy in 2006, we are urging politicians and civil servants to take a lead in promoting a cultural shift in the way we view our waste. We need to consider waste as a resource, not as redundant rubbish. Taking a fresh look at better ways of reusing glass and other materials can help towards achieving CO2 reductions in line with Kyoto targets.”

The report comes as the country disposes of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of packaging, card, paper and glass waste generated during the festive period.

Implementing the strategy would mean avoiding carbon-intensive processes, such as grinding up glass bottles amassed over Christmas for reuse as low value construction material and then transported long distances. Treatment processes that redeem a higher ‘carbon value’ from waste would be used instead.

Gerstrom added: “We urgently need a national strategy to develop treatment facilities. If it is to be successful, a ‘waste as resource’ philosophy demands an approach from Government much like the one that allowed the creation of a National Grid for our electricity supply at the beginning of the 20th century.”

ICE is calling for the Government to help local councils identify suitable sites and build the necessary infrastructure to provide a variety of treatment methods for waste.

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