It is hard to believe that we have arrived in the year 2008 but it is likely to be an interesting one for the waste and recycling industry. MRW asks some industry sectors what they expect in the coming year.
The retail industry made a lot of pledges in 2007 to tackle climate change and cut down on its waste. The debate about banning plastic bags got particularly heated last year.
A British Retail Consortium spokesman said: Many retailers have pledged to reduce the overall environmental impact of carrier bags by 25% by the end of 2008.
Industry retailers have individually made lengthy pledges of their own and so there is naturally a competitive issue between retailers. There were loads and loads of pledges made last year including pledges to reduce carbon emissions, reduce the amount of waste taken to landfill and use of biofuels in transport fleets.
Signatories of the Courtauld Commitment agreed to design out packaging waste growth by 2008. Its retailer signatories include Asda, Boots, Budgens, the Co-operative Group, Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose.
ASDA has set itself a 25% packaging reduction target for its own label food products by 2008. Sainsbury's set itself a 5% overall packaging reduction target by 2008 and a 25% packaging reduction target for fresh produce by May 2008.
By September a new EU Batteries Directive demands businesses that produce and sell batteries be responsible for collecting and recycling spent batteries. Battery recycling company G & P Batteries managing director Michael Green said: We are very much looking forward to this year, as it will culminate in the introduction of the new Batteries Directive, something we have worked towards and been supportive of for many years.
I hope that the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will be able to maintain the tight timetable that has been set to ensure the legislation comes into force on time.
We are concerned, along with many others, I am sure, about the news of budget cuts at Defra and the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP). I hope that this will not detrimentally affect the good work that has been undertaken by WRAP over the last couple of years in the area of trialling waste portable battery collections from kerbside and retailers.
WRAP has been operating trials of kerbside collections in 13 local authorities across the UK. Results from the different battery recycling trials will help identify the most effective collection strategy, to enable the UK to meet the Batteries Directive, which requires the collection of 25% of all household batteries by 2012.
The glass industry like the battery industry also hopes to see an increase in recycling rates in 2008. British Glass Manufacturers Confederation director general David Workman said: I expect overall glass recycling rates to continue to rise to the extent that I am confident that container glass will achieve its 60% target.
However, the glass industry predicts that the quality of glass will continue to deteriorate. The deterioration in quality of materials received for re melt will continue unless there is decisive action by local authorities to rectify a situation which is close becoming a national disgrace.
What is desperately needed in UK Waste Strategy is a closer link in targeting between those who are responsible for collecting waste and those who process it, Workman added.
The textile industry is more optimistic on the political front stating that the Government now recognises that textiles is the fastest growing household waste stream in the UK. Textile Recycling Association national liaison manager Alan Wheeler said: The carbon benefits of diverting a tonne of clothing or textiles away from disposal is estimated to be significant, and comes second only to aluminium on a per tonne basis out of all the major household waste streams.
All this has resulted in textiles as being identified as a priority waste stream under the Waste Strategy and Defra are now in the process of developing their Sustainable Clothing Roadmap.
Wheeler added that the textile industry has taken a keen interest in the environmental impact of their activities. He predicts that there will be strong demand for most grades of re-usable second hand clothing in 2008 because of the high demand from the Eastern Europe market.
Finally, commenting on the year ahead, Environmental Services Association (ESA) chief executive Dirk Hazell said: Next year, the 40th anniversary of the ESA, will continue to present challenges and opportunities for the waste and secondary resources industry to make Britain a recycling society.
Following the publication of the Waste Strategy we hope that 2008 will see agreement on the Waste Framework Directive, and work will begin on the proposed new Integrated Pollution Prevention Control Directive. Within the UK, deals on new infrastructure need to accelerate if we are to build what is needed to meet future landfill diversion targets. The Environment Agency has estimated that thousands of new facilities will be required to manage waste and comply with EU waste law over the next decade, at a cost of over £11billion.
Obtaining planning permission remains the single biggest barrier to the timely delivery of new waste management infrastructure and needs liberalising, something the Planning Bill being debated in Parliament this year should address.
Image: G&P Batteries MD Michael Green