I was in Liverpool last week for the Diamond Jubilee Awards of the Keep Britain Tidy (KBT) group. They included categories around cutting waste, and it reflects a growing emphasis within the organisation on managing our resources.
The charity has a three-fold strategy during the next five to 10 years to work towards the elimination of litter, improving local places and - for the first time - ending waste.
Resource minister Dan Rogerson kicked off proceedings at the awards by praising KBT’s “truly ground-breaking research”, and said the group was “the place to go to if you want to find out the latest most successful way to reduce litter”.
Such a reputation was consolidated by research commissioned from Eunomia in December, reported at the time by MRW, that concluded if 50% of items littered in England were recycled, the recovered materials would have an economic value of at least £14.8m. The research also linked litter and fly-tipping - a waste crime - with other ‘street’ crime.
This time last year, I wrote about another Eunomia report, this time for the Environmental Services Association Educational Trust, called Tackling Britain’s Dirty Secret. It concluded that for every £1 spent by regulatory bodies on tackling waste crime, our wider society benefits by £5.60. It’s a message that our leaders have not generally embraced.
KBT’s ability to take on new goals successfully is all the more challenging now that it is no longer supported with grants from Defra, however positive Rogerson may be. WRAP has faced a similar cut in funding, although it still gets some cash from Whitehall. WRAP is now a charity too, and is taking steps into a brave new (commercial) world. We wish KBT well as it sets out on a similar path.
The latest concern about waste crime in our own sector, and the ability of the Environment Agency (EA) to tackle it, is reported exclusively. As we have said in the past, the EA needs more resources to tackle what is a wide range of types of crime but is bedevilled with the consequences of the political pressure at Defra to prioritise flooding.
The report is one of the last from our chief reporter Chiara Francavilla who leaves MRW this week. We thank her for her sterling journalism during the past two years and wish her good luck in her new venture.
- The photo above shows the winning Liverpool Council/Amey entry in the environmental team category