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Resources agenda must involve us all

I attended two consecutive and complementary events on Monday. The first was that of the new RWM with CIWM ‘ambassadors’, previously reported in MRW, whose mission is “to build a clear plan for resource efficiency and take a leadership role in trying to educate government and business”. It is difficult to argue that such a role is not needed in the UK.

The second event was a keynote lecture from European Commissioner Janez Potocnik at University College, London. It was a timely address coming days ahead of his paper, scheduled for 1 July, to take the EU towards a circular economy with a zero-waste programme.

Under the Slovenian official’s mild-mannered presentation there was clearly a steely determination. This was most evident in the questions that followed his speech. In response to one about how business waste producers could do more to embrace the philosophy, Potocnik said he was approachable but “a handshake needs two hands”, and he wished the business sector would talk 10% about the environment for the 90% he talked about the economy. The rebuke was clear.

The ambassadors also heard the speech and it would have provided much food for thought, particularly in getting across key messages to wider communities. Some would also have heard resource minister Dan Rogerson on Wednesday offer the pragmatic assertion that

(I paraphrase), if a full circular economy is unobtainable, do not expend all your efforts on trying to get there. Room for debate.

It is early days for the RWM initiative. But the membership is an impressive cross-section of people from the recycling and waste sector, and I am sure it will have a decent momentum when their strategy is agreed and rolled out in the coming months.

Finally, congratulations to Veolia’s Estelle Brachlianoff for winning the CBI’s First Women Business of the Year award, in recognition of the company’s determination to promote and develop its talented female staff, as well as seeking to establish a flexible workforce. Brachlianoff writes a timely column for us about Veolia’s efforts here.

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