A unique partnership between leading private companies and academic institutions hopes to help educate the UK in waste management, binning many of the myths surrounding the industry.
Sustainable construction and developing a skills base for the waste industry may also be other areas new charity Thames Gateway Institute for Sustainability will be looking at.
The organisation is bringing together members including Marks and Spencer, Veolia, Imperial College London, Southampton University, University College London, Biffa, construction companies Laing O Rourke and Arup and the Environment Agency.
Set to become a world class centre of excellence for delivering sustainability research and demonstration projects, it aims to deliver practical solutions to climate change and sustainability issues while creating tens of thousands of jobs. The whole spectrum of the sustainability field including energy, waste, water, communications technology and transport is being addressed by the collaboration.
The institute is targeting to facilitate £50M of demonstration activity over the next two years. The board has been appointed and is being chaired by Arup global planning chief Peter Head.
Veolia Environmental Services managing director and TGIfS board member Keith Riley said: Its a unique charity because normally people dont come together to talk about the subject - how do we resolve this sustainability problem.
Riley stressed that it was still very early days and no plans have been prioritised as yet.
Speaking about the waste sector, Riley continued: We want to stop the myths and try to spread the understanding about how some technologies are used and why they are used. For example, as soon as the word incineration is said people draw breath but actually, there is a lot of sustainability in using thermal treatments. We need to get these barriers down through education.
He added: My personal view is that we need to communicate on all levels of society. I think the big waste management issues now lie in the private sector such as factories and firms.
Other possibilities include helping to make people aware of funding streams and supporting applications for facilities. The group is also interested in developing a proper skills base within industry in order to encourage sustainability and also helping to develop sustainable construction, ensuring more recovered materials are used. Material recovery and security is also another key area the Institute is looking into.
Currently, a 100,000 tonnes capacity energy from waste facility is being developed at the London Sustainable Industries Park, Dagenham Dock. The institute is working with Cyclamax to use the hydrogen and methane gases generated from the waste facility for different types of transport, such as a hydrogen fuel bus. This demonstration project will power one of London's passenger ferries on the Thames, using an internal combustion engine modified to run on methane with auxiliary power provided by a hydrogen powered fuel cell.