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Data is key to planning properly

I had the pleasure at RWM this year of chairing a panel discussion on the likely shape and scale of the UK’s future waste arisings and the infrastructure needed to deal with it.

One of the fundamental problems was uncertainty around data. If we cannot agree likely levels of waste, how can we agree on the capacity needed? And how would planners factor-in a limp economy slowly recovering with increased consumption and more arisings?

It is certainly fundamental to commercial and industrial (C&I) waste. The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management pointed out in its C&I reportthat the UK is at risk of a significant infrastructure gap, and the sector is too poorly informed to make robust decisions.

And Defra’s revision of its own arisings and capacity data led to the cancellation of Norfolk’s PFI project.

Reliable data for the next few years will be crucial to help us understand the relationship between arisings and the state of the economy.

Then there has been the debate on glass market volatility (see page 8), where a detailed look at the data suggested recycling targets need not have been set as high as they were - although there is a separate argument, particularly in England, about the merits of over-achieving though stringent targets.

Finally, it was heartening this week to see Q3 packaging figures roughly where they were meant to be, offering hope for the plastic sector, in particular, that it can continue to meet annual 5% hikes.

So much data in the news - Chiara Francavilla will be examining its importance in our next issue on 9 November.


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