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Church preaches to the unconverted

It is certainly not a truth universally acknowledged - to paraphrase Jane Austen - that the waste and resource management industry is one of the few areas of growth in the struggling British economy. Those of us working in the sector know it makes a valuable contribution to UK plc but far too few outside recognise the fact.

So pages 14 and 15 make fascinating reading as Colin Church, Defra’s director of waste, talks exclusively to Neil Roberts about his work, a key part of which is spotlighting the economic role played by the waste sector. “That way of thinking has not caught on yet. For a lot of politicians and business leaders, they don’t think of waste in economic terms,” he told MRW.

In some ways, this is down to an historic emphasis of the ‘green’ benefits of recycling and reuse. This may well be true,

but it is now a powerful weapon to be able to point to a financial bonus as well.

A report from market research firm Key Note is timely. It says the UK waste management market will grow significantly to £10.79bn by 2016, a rise of more than 50% since 2007, albeit after a period of subdued growth in 2011 and 2012 (see page 6). More ammunition for the Church crusade, perhaps?

His interview also offers insight into the challenges that civil servants and ministers face when waste policy is a cross-departmental issue. Supporters of anaerobic digestion, for example, who struggle for recognition from Decc about renewable energy, will be struck by Church’s pragmatic observation that waste remains “a minor player” when up against other sectors.

Church spoke to MRW shortly before his department launched the consultation over the Quality Action Plan and MRF code of practice. This will surely be fertile ground for a follow-up later in the year.

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