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First steps to national materials database

Defra has kicked off plans for a pilot project to develop a national materials database – part of a number of initiatives around smarter use of resource data.

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A steering group has been set up to work with the Office for National Statistics with the goal of putting in the public domain data on waste and raw materials needed by industry to make investment decisions.

It is thought likely such a project could support the growth of new separation technologies and other commercial opportunities. It will identify what data exists, what is required, where there are data gaps and how they might be addressed.

Work was expected to begin this month and conclude by April. 

The pilot will be based on the BioChem10 project which is looking at the most promising bio-based chemicals for production in the UK. It is expected that more collaboration between industry and academia will speed up innovation in this sector.

Work is also underway into greater understanding of the extent and composition of commercial and industrial waste, with a review of the reporting methodology, including definition of waste at transfer stations.

Defra’s working group on data within the waste and resource sector grew out of research by the Ricardo consultancy commissioned by the Ambassadors, part of the RWM with CIWM event.

The result, led by Simon Aplin, described a patchwork situation with extensive data generally available in the public sector but much less so in the private. The challenge with the latter is commercial confidentiality as waste managers are loathe to share data that gives others any competitive advantage.

MRW understands that Aplin’s project appealed to Defra officials as they prepare for number of significant policy developments in 2018, including the 25-year department’s environment plan and the resource and waste strategy as well as the impending arrival of the Circular Economy package from Brussels.

These data developments come as the Environment Agency is consulting on an updated electronic version of waste transfer notes which could replace the current voluntary – but not widely adopted – Edoc.

Additionally, the National Infrastructure Commission has charged the environmental consultancy Anthesis with reviewing the UK’s waste sector to “weigh the costs of separation and different treatment/disposal pathways against the economic, environmental and social benefits”.

 

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