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Industry's TV stars set a gold standard

I was a couch potato during the bank holiday weekend to catch up on Wastemen, the excellent three-part BBC documentary on household collections and disposal in Newcastle which was broadcast earlier this month.

MRW was involved in initial research for the programme and it was fascinating to see it come together.

Members of the collection teams, street cleaners, enforcement officers and MRF workers all showed the very human side of our industry and genuine commitment to serve the community. I’m not sure I would have volunteered to go through black bags to retrieve a pensioner’s rather kitsch set of pottery elephants (for the record, two of the three were returned unbroken to the grateful lady).

The series generated positive reactions on social media and was an excellent counterpoint to other, less helpful, contributions from the media. It also brought into the mainstream issues such as reuse and refuse-derived fuel exports. Congratulations to Suez for providing several stars of the show.

The CIWM and the ESA has published a manifesto from their new joint lobbying group Resources & Waste UK (R&W UK). There are six policy areas around waste collection and recycling performance, investment, demand for secondary materials, the regulatory balance, cross-Whitehall policy and engagement with policymakers across Europe. See my report on it here.

The timing is impeccable, coming in the week that the European Commission launched a consultation on its revised circular economy package and the new Government set out its policy programme in the Queen’s Speech.

We will have more on these two topics in the next issue. R&W UK’s chief executive Steve Lee told MRW it wanted the Government “to commit to delivering a more resource-efficient and resource-secure economy while protecting the environment and future generations”, but there was little of that in the list of proposed bills. In the meantime, we are still waiting to find out which Defra minister will be taking the lead on resource and waste management.

There are, it should be noted, some positive developments. This month, Camilla Cavendish, a journalist with green credentials, became head of David Cameron’s policy unit and there are rumours that a cabinet minister is to review the need for Whitehall to be more resource efficient. That would indeed be a welcome Westminster policy.

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