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Our sector needs honesty above all

Ray Georgeson

In the world of 24/7 news, fake news, alternative truth, spurious research dressed up as facts, social media shouting and growing levels of division and intolerance in many societies, finding moments of calm to take stock and analyse can be very difficult.

I am certain that this relent­less stream of consciousness does not help us to make good decisions about our future. Decisions often seem to be made in hurried and fractious situations and cause more problems than they solve.

This happens just as much in our own industry as it does in other aspects of public policy.

Reaching beyond the short-term expediency and pressure of politics to a place where we make good long-term deci­sions and set policy courses that last well and are effective, based on solid decision mak­ing processes, seems elusive.

There are real examples of this that affect our business. In Brussels, what should be an inspiring vision for a circular economy that creates employ­ment, uses resources much more efficiently and trans­forms the way we consume goods and services, is bogged down in ludicrous arguments about headline recycling rates that are not even based on a consensus position on the point in the recycling process at which those rates should be measured.

Governments that under­stand the logic of what actually constitutes recycling – the point at which a recovered material enters the recycling process, not the sorting plant or collection point – cannot cope with the political embar­rassment of seeing present ‘recycling’ rates go rapidly downwards.

“Politicians seem incapable of simply admitting that what they want to agree to be bound by is a collection rate, not a recycling rate. If that is all they can actually agree, then why not be honest with the public?”

At the same time, they seem incapable of simply fronting up and admitting that what they want to agree to be bound by is a collection rate, not a recycling rate. If that is all they can actually agree, then why not redefine and explain – and be honest with the public.

There should always be room for healthy, informed and civil debate about policy options that allows good deci­sions to be taken – fake con­sensus is probably just as bad as fake news.

RWM has a role to play in this, and the new role it seeks as a community of interest in resources, not just a gathering point for a trade show, is a wel­come one.

It has the potential to pro­vide a year-round forum for discussion, collaboration and challenge that helps us to con­tribute to society in a more considered and sustained way.

Do join me on this journey with RWM as we try to find some clarity in the complexity that surrounds us.

Ray Georgeson is chief executive of the Resource Association on forming a consensus over recycling


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