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The nation has a duty of care about its waste

Corin Williams

Not only do individuals have a duty of care, countries do as well. This is the gist of what British Plastics Federation managing director Roger Baynham has said, and as China’s ongoing blockade of waste imports there is evidence the UK’s waste is gumming up ports all around the Pacific Rim.

Campaigners Greenpeace examined export figures and uncovered a huge increase in UK waste being exported to destinations such as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Pakistan. Can we be sure what we throw in our bins at home is being treated responsibly overseas?

There is also evidence that increasing amounts of material we put in for recycling is going for incineration. In these times of greater scrutiny of our sector, there is a risk of a public backlash sparked by critical headlines.

We journalists also have a duty of care to accurately and fairly report data to our readers. Last month we focused on the gender pay gap within the waste industry. Figures published by the Government lump water and waste together, and we spent the time separating them out to reveal the true picture. As there have been inaccurate reporting on this subject elsewhere, we want to put the record straight.

There has been a lot of activity in front of and behind the scenes ahead of the resource and waste strategy. Within the space of just a few weeks, the Environmental Services Association released a report calling for more funding of recycling for the UK, Suez launched a ‘manifesto’ outlining its resources vision and the Aldersgate Group urged ministers to implement tax measures to boost recycling. CIWM’s Resourcing the Future conference focused on public messages to send to ministers.

Out of the public eye, waste management and other companies related to the sector are setting up meetings with Government policy makers. What kind of deals are being made in the back rooms of Whitehall? We will find out before the end of the year.

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