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Proof positive

Not quite a year since his appointment as chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Steve Lee has set a cracking pace for change and has outlined big goals for the future. With enthusiasm that knows no bounds and seemingly endless energy, Lee reflects on the past year and takes a look at what the next 12 months hold in store.

I cant believe that it is almost a year since I took on the role of chief executive of CIWM. The time has gone so quickly. Its been exciting and fulfilling and it has certainly given me a whole different perspective from my previous role as an industry regulator.

One of our main goals has been to set up a series of initiatives to demonstrate that membership of the CIWM is both important and rewarding. To do this we have relaunched the CIWM website to provide more and better information for our members, making us more transparent and extending something extra.

The new-look website will make the institution more open to our members. We have added an open forum facility which will go live for the first time in June looking at what improvements our members would like to see to the planning system. All members will be able to air their opinions on this cross-sectoral issue whereas previously we were limited to working groups that were often governed by member availability or geographical constraints. We intend to use these opinions in our work with Government. It will give us a broader perspective.

Why did we choose planning for the first discussion? Planning impacts on every aspect of waste management. The opinions that we get back will be used in dialogues with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and a number of other Government departments. Currently, we are working with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs on the permitting review and the possible revision to Duty of Care legislation. One of our roles is to act as the body in between the policy formers and those who put these decisions into practice.

CIWM has 6,000 members and so to get a wide-ranging opinion provides us with a valuable resource. During the past few years it has become obvious that the issue of waste is going to become much more important in future. Legislation is dictating that it should be so. Waste is going to become an important matter for each and every business in the land. For the CIWM it means that we need to get in touch with other sectors. We need to make them aware and help UK industry to move towards more sustainable practices.

Raw materials have always been thought of as cheap; and its the same with landfill. That is no longer the case. CIWM needs to work with waste-producing industries. But we are under no illusions that we will bring about an overnight change. It took a decade to convince people to wear seatbelts and there were pretty serious consequences of not doing so. We are not expecting an overnight reversal of attitudes.

But, to help us along the way we are looking for working partners. We are currently working with the Institute of Directors and the Environment Agency to compile a practical guide to socially responsible business. Thousands of businesses want to perform better when it comes to waste but find the task extremely complex they are put off. This is a simple get-you-started guide, advising on resource efficiency and waste management. It will be called The Sustainable Enterprise and should hit the streets in August or September.

CIWM is also running a free waste producers conference day in conjunction with Envirowise and the agency. We are hoping to attract several hundred delegates, getting across the message that waste matters. Speakers will include big names such as GlaxoSmithKline, Geest and Dixons.

This is all part of CIWMs more outward-looking approach. It is simply not enough to continue talking among us the message has to go further.

At the same time we do want to extend the reach of the institution within the waste management sector. We tend to h

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