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Personal reflections on a year in waste 2012

MRW asked people across the waste, recycling and reuse industry for their own take on the past 12 months. Lord Deben got the most nominations for personality of 2012.

Dr Alan Whitehead MP, APSRG co-chair

Best news of 2012: announcement by Gasrec & SETA about the roll out of a new biomethane fleet sourced initially from biogas from landfill.

Worst news of 2012: £250m for weekly bin collections (it only resulted in one authority going from bi-weekly to weekly collections; and if you can get £250 mil in this climate, I can think of a lot of better ways to spend it that would make more of an impact on local waste collection costs and recycling rates)

Personality of the Year: Steve Lee CIWM

Ian Hetherington, director general BMRA

Best: Rebels in the House of Commons last minute decision to back the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill

Worst: the Government’s decision to legislate against cash purchases of metal for recycling without putting in place legislation to close off the loopholes and to provide the police with the tools they need to bring wrongdoers to book

Personality: Graham Davy (Chief Executive of Sims Metal Management) for leading the industry through a period of dramatic change

Dan Rogerson MP, APSRG co-chair

Best: It’s been great to hear recently that for the first time we’re recycling more than we’re landfilling here in England. I hope we keep building on that success over the next year.

Worst: News surrounding the AWC/weekly debate and DCLG’s £250 million fund. There seems to be a lot of anger in the debate and a lack of communication between Government and industry.

Personality: European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik. He is doing a great job of spreading the message about key environment issues across Europe.

Clyde Loakes, vice chair LGA Environment Board

Best: That the EU confirmed- what increasing numbers of local authorities already knew - that commingled collections of recyclables was permissible.
Worst: That commingling and therefore ‘localism’ was still being challenged in the form of a JR. A shocking waste of time, energy and resources that could have been better spent on encouraging greater recycling, reuse and other waste minimization activities!

Baroness Jenkin of Kennington, ASPRG co-chair

Best: How resource sustainability was a major feature of the Olympics, from the design of the buildings, through to how attempts were made to recycle everything visitors to the site threw away. Now we need to learn from the experience and work out how to apply it elsewhere.

Worst: I feel disappointed that despite great initiatives such as Love Food Hate Waste, so much food goes to waste every year. This is especially worrying at the moment, when families are having to turn to food banks due to financial difficulties.

Personality: Lord Taylor of Holbeach for the commitment he showed to the waste and resources brief.

Liz Goodwin, chief executive WRAP

Best: The work of the Product Sustainability Forum (PSF) which will provide evidence for making decisions about where to focus efforts to improve the environmental performance of products. The PSF will also undertake some practical trials with industry to test a range of solutions in supply chains, and we look forward to progressing this in 2013.

Worst: The continuing difficult economic conditions which have affected everyone we work with – businesses, local authorities and consumers

Personality: Janez Potocnik, EU Commissioner

Paul Levett, non-executive director

Best: Clarification of ROCs

Worst: Lord Taylor being moved from DEFRA

Personality: Gavin Shuker

Paul Dumpleton, ECC Environment

Best: Best news of the year was Saica opening their packaging mill in the UK. It’s the first one for decades in the UK in the packaging sector. We have had closure after closure.

Worst: On going recession driving down waste volumes and recovered prices which has inevitably lead to job losses and much needed skill sets leaving the industry.

Personality: Colin Cooper MD of Avondale who opened a privately financed 150k tonnes merchant MSW MRF in Scotland which is the first part of a three phase plan of building a major waste treatment park. Serial entrepreneur who does it in style.

Adam Read, Ricardo-AEA

Best: The closure of the Essex PFI residual waste treatment contract back in June– over 5 years in the making, and a personal triumph for many of the team @ Ricardo-AEA and of course the Council

Worst: Eric Pickles and his weekly collection fund – this should never have been allowed, and will undermine progress being made on AWC and food waste collections across the country!

Personality: Lord Sugar for putting waste management and recycling into the media mainstream through a series of ‘tasks’ on both the Apprentice and the junior Apprentice – this is helping shape public opinion of metals recycling and materials recovery, and inspiring future entrepreneurs who will be the next innovators in the sector!

Peter Butt, WRA

Best:That certain UK biomass projects were indeed going ahead.  (This balanced out the bad news of those which were not.)

Worst:The closure of Sonae’s panel-board mill at Knowsley. Sad for all those who lost their jobs, and most unwelcome for the wood recyclers who had been putting 1,200 tonnes a day into the plant.

Adam Fleming, MD A.F Recycling

Best: We acquired a large piece of machiery called a single shaft shredder, which has helped to improve our business and increase efficiency.

Worst:The recesiion hitting the construction market

Muhammed Master - commercial director, M & V Recycling UK Ltd

Best: We had an unofficial merger with a company in Singapore, which has helped to grow our business

Worst: The market has started to slow down due to the recession

Nicola Guest, marketing manager, Alchemy Metals

Best: Scrap Metal Dealers Bill, 2nd in ballot, picked by Richard Ottaway and backed by Government
Worst: That itinerant traders exemption

Jeremy Jacobs, Organics Recycling

Best: Merging with the Renewable Energy Association as it is a big event for our company. We hope it will be completed by January of next year

Worst: The whole Eric Pickles free waste collection debate. There has been a complete lack of understanding throughout the whole thing and it needs to be resolved soon.

Paul Briggs, Mark Lyndon

Best: The Chinese custopm officials finally clamping down on poor quality as it is levelling the playing field.

Worst: Can’t think of anything, must have been a good year

Personality: Eric Pickles

James Crick, Nampack Plastics

Best: The launch of the Infini-lightweight milk bottle

Worst: DEFRA ignoring advice from the packaging industry in regards to the platics targets.

Personality: MD for EcoPlastics, Jonathan Short

Paul Ozanne, Salvation Army Trading co.

Best: Acquiring our contractors

Worst: The recession hitting the industry. We’ve not been too badly affected but we’ve not been immune either.

Personality: Kit Strange, who sadly passed away earlier this year. He made the think tank, The Resource Recovery Forum. He was a huge influence on the .

Stephen Bisset, EMR

Best: It has been a very hard year to be honest.

Worst: Everything. Lack of sales, lack of orders.

Raj Iqbal, Choice Waste Management

Best: UK happily meeting its targets for plastic recycling

Worst: Two companies in the industry going bust. Shows how careful we need to be.

Andy Doran, The Resource Association

Best: The Olympics had to be a highlight of the year (for me at least) and what better role models for sustainable and healthy lifestyles than the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Jessica Ennis. You get the feeling there would be no food waste around if either of them came to dinner

Worst: Not so much a single story, but just the general malaise that has settled on English Waste and Resources Policy. Poor previous leadership, compounded by a tough economic position has left resource efficiency in England as the poorer cousin to its more ambitious neighbours of Wales and Scotland.

Personality: Well if you believe the rankings afforded by one of your rival publications - the personality of 2012 has to be Ray Georgeson, MBE and Chief Executive of The Resource Association. That and he’s an all round good fella!

Bruce Le Gros, Fercell Engineering

Best: GIB becomes a reality

Worst: Welcome to three more years of austerity - minimum - business stagnation under a different guise

Personality: Every MD of UK plc hell bent on staying in business

Dave Swindells, Managing Director, Bag-It-Up

Best: Through a large scale investment in our stock of banks we have managed to eliminate theft from all of our banks during the year.

Worst:Despite the best efforts within the industry, it is still the case that over 1.4 million tonnes of textiles still end up in landfill.

Personality: Dave Timson Head of Waste at Sainsbury’s. With David, Bag It Up (BIU) are investigating the carbon saving impact of textile recycling.

Mark Bradbury, Vertical Thinking Limited

Best: The start on site at London Sustainable Industries Park linked to securing the first waste investments by the London Green Fund and the UK Green Investment Bank

Worst: Too many local authorities still entering into wasteful long term contracts based on incineration. There is a better way and am pleased it’s not just me saying that - see your report last week on Cornwall.

Personality: John Gummer/Lord Deben - New Chair of Committee on Climate Change and Visionary Panel on Food Waste.

Charlotte Morton, chief executive, ADBA

Best: The opening of the UK’s first commercial scale biomethane-to-grid plant by the Prince of Wales at Poundbury - demonstrating this technology is economically viable and works successfully at scale today.

Worst: The government introducing a low capacity trigger for degression of the FIT quickly followed by the proposal to remove ROCs for AD (now thankfully reversed).

Personality: Lord Deben, for his work on food waste in Vision 20:20 and vocal support for the UK’s need to address GHG emissions and climate change as the new chair of the CCC.

David Adams, managing director, Clarity Environmental

Best: The full integration of our WEEE and packaging compliance schemes into the Clarity name was great news for us as it’s a move that has strengthened our brand and business.

Worst: The glass PRN market made trading both interesting and challenging for the industry this year.

Personality: I always enjoy reading the frank comments from Trelawney Dampney in MRW.

Peter Scholes, managing director, Urban Mines

Best: I am heartened by the number of new waste facilities which have been given planning permission and have started construction this year. These are never easy or popular decisions, and the process is still painfully slow, but we desperately need new recycling and residual waste treatment infrastructure if we are ever to significantly reduce the volumes of waste we landfill.

Worst: As per my article in MRW, I was shocked to see the Environment Agency return figures released this autumn which told us that the landfilling of waste in England and Wales has not reduced at all over the last 3 years (2009-11) despite huge increases in landfill tax and a sector dedicated to landfill diversion.

Personality: Ernie Sharp, the 90 year old former Lewisham bin man and Masters graduate in Waste Management at Northampton University when he was 88. His performance in the recent BBC 4 programme “The Secret Life of Rubbish” helped us all better understand where we have come from as an industry.

Gavin Barnes, recycling project manager, Tong Peal Engineering

Best: reduction in red tape surrounding the National Planning Policy after the budget back in March
Worst: talk of potentially extreme increases in landfill tax for many of our customers
Personality: Professor Brian Cox

Julian Rinfret, Director, Balcan Engineering

Best: Winning a contract to install the first lamp recycling plant into Serbia

Herman van der Meij, director, Viridor

Best: The significant and positive attention for quality of all recyclables.
Worst: The amount of deathly accidents in our industry.
Personality: All the people in our industry in the UK making it possible to bring the recycling/resource market of the UK to the next level

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