The new president of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) launched a report on the circular economy as he took office in a ceremony in the Northern Irish parliament this week.
John Quinn, a chartered civil engineer and chartered environmentalist with over 30 years of experience in local government in Northern Ireland, took over the presidential mantle from David Beadle.
Quinn said that promoting awareness of the circular economy among waste managers will be one of the priorities of his presidency, alongside improving health and safety, combating waste crime and assessing the industry’s infrastructure needs.
He launched a report aimed at helping industry members better understand how to translate the concept of the circular economy into practice.
“I wanted to stimulate debate about CIWM’s potential role in operationalising the circular economy for the sector with a view of maintaining the organisation’s relevance to members as we go forward,” he said.
As part of the project, the organisation surveyed 612 individuals and interviewed 54. While the majority of them saw the circular economy as an opportunity for the sector, only 27% indicated they were doing an “even modest” level of planning for it.
To stimulate circular economy practice, the CIWM put forward an action plan, which includes:
- developing a “Circular Economy Action Group” to engage stakeholders within and beyond the waste and management sector
- embedding the circular economy into the institution’s training, internal structures, strategies and planning
- acting as a catalyst and facilitator for the dissemination of circular economy developments and practice
- supporting other circular economy initiatives, such as the Royal Society Of Arts’ design project The Great Recovery
The report was written by Ray Georgeson, director of Ray Georgeson Resources, and Jane Beasley, director of Beasley Associates.
John Quinn, president of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management:
“In its broadest sense, the circular economy is about keeping resources at work and our industry collects and manages a lot of the recovered material resources that are needed to make that circle happen.
There are four key areas where I feel CIWM has a contribution to make; communication, knowledge, skills and influence.
We should be helping to bring the different parts of industry together, championing and communicating to a range of audiences the role we play in collecting, sorting and reprocessing quality secondary materials that are essential to the success of the circular economy concept.
We should be helping to address the gaps that need to be filled in - gaps in our knowledge and data, gaps in our networks and relationships, and gaps in our thinking and arguments.
We should be exploring what skills and training need to be in place to ensure that our industry can respond to and benefit from the opportunities ahead and help its customers to do the same.
And we should be influencing the agenda where possible and building on the strong messages in the European Commission’s recent Communication that a circular economy approach is essential to underpin sustainable economic growth in the future.”