The new president of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) Margaret Bates has urged greater focus on waste prevention and reuse.
Bates, professor of sustainable wastes management in the School of Science and Technology at the University of Northampton, was inaugurated in a ceremony at the House of Commons.
The themes for her presidential year included an emphasis on the higher end of the waste hierarchy.
“Although the ways in which we treat and recycle waste are constantly improving, I am concerned that we focus too much on these aspects of the waste hierarchy without sufficient consideration of the options at the top, which will, I believe, be essential to delivering on a circular economy (CE) – whatever our UK version of a CE may be.”
The waste and resource sector is an amazing sector to be part of
Bates launched the CIWM’s latest report, Reuse in the UK – a ‘State of the Nations Report’, prepared by Beasley Associates and Ray Georgeson Resources, saying it was important the report was a positive piece of work, celebrating the successes of the reuse sector.
“We wanted a report that acknowledged not only the challenges and issues, but really focused on the ways these had been overcome. A report that doesn’t just leave the reader thinking why you should reuse, but is more about why on earth would you not reuse?”
Bates also mentioned the CIWM’s current research into the impact of technology on consumption patterns and the role of the supply chain, which is being carried out by John Twitchen at ENV23. She called on brands, retailers and local government to work together to help change wasteful consumption patterns.
The 150 guests at the inauguration event also heard Bates praise the industry and emphasise its impact on everyday lives.
“The waste and resource sector is an amazing sector to be part of; it is both friendly and supportive, and innovative and cutting edge… We persuade a large number of people every day to think about their waste, rinse it and put it out separately for recycling even though there is no direct benefit to them at all – can you think of another area that could make similar claims?”
Margaret Bates has been involved in waste management for 25 years. After graduating in applied biology, she researched the effects of heavy metals on gas production in landfill and progressed from lecturer to professor at the University of Northampton.
She is a member of the All-party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group advisory board and a member of the ICE resource panel. She has advised the governments of Kenya and Nigeria on the development of waste management policy, and delivered training on developing effective policy and regulation for other states (through the United Nations University).