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Viridor's McAulay: ‘Absolutes are the enemy of progress’

Viridor’s chief executive has called on the sector to take strategic decisions about waste and recycling based on balance rather than dogmatic principles.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, Ian McAulay said that “absolutes are the enemy of progress,” and urged fellow industry members to be mindful of the circumstances when planning strategies.

“We are not in the position in the sector to make absolute decisions,” he said. “We can’t say one thing is right and one thing is not.

“For example, is incineration bad or good? Actually it’s somewhere in between. You can produce energy but there are emissions you have to control them… Is it weekly collection or two weekly collections? I don’t know, it’s different among different areas and depends on the circumstances. Is it segregating or commingled? Again it’s different across areas.”

An approach based on balance should be applied with “relentless discipline”, he added.

He encouraged the CIWM audience to follow best practices in the sector, indicating the work in Cardiff, Elgin, South London, Glasgow, and Greater Manchester as examples.

McAulay, who described the waste industry as an “immature and evolving market”, argued that organisations had to set aside resources for learning and development to make sure they were “fit for the future”.

McAulay joined Viridor in September 2013, after working as chief of strategy and corporate development at MWH Global in the US. He has completed Harvard Business School’s Advanced management programme and Cambridge University’s business and environment programme.

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