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Hiding its head in the levant sand

The waste management industry, from the local yard to multi-national companies, knows only too well that it is part of a global dynamic. But that international perspective is not all about supply and demand or exchange rates. Placard-waving protestors in Canterbury last week underlined that the business sector must also be mindful of wider political issues, even those halfway around the world.

As Neil Roberts reports, discussion by councillors of a contract involving Veolia Environmental Services UK took place against a background of complaints about the activities of another subsidiary of the main Veolia Environment group in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. It emphasises how much companies have to be aware of both how they are perceived in the wider community and how they work within the democratic process.

At RWM last September Viridor’s external affairs manager Dan Cooke ruffled the feathers of some community activists by saying that developers of waste infrastructure schemes should focus on people who are “open-minded” rather than those implacably opposed to their particular proposal.

But by not actively engaging with such opponents there is a real danger they do not go away. Veolia Environmental Services UK chose not to comment to MRW about the Canterbury protest. It is difficult to see how not taking up an opportunity to give their side can help ease the pressure that politicians may be under the next time a Veolia contract is publicly discussed.

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