The importance of ‘duty of care’ was a key theme in the sector during 2016.
The year kicked off with the Environmental Services Association (ESA) announcing its ‘Right Waste, Right Place’ campaign, with additional funding from the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and the Environment Agency (EA).
It was to be marked by an awareness campaign in March with sector-focused initiatives thereafter.
A topic that flared up regularly during the year was efforts to cut the number of fires at waste sites. A series of tests began in 2015 continued well into the new year, with the intention of informing updated guidance for operators.
At the same time, the EA was consulting on a shake-up of fire safety regulations which would later spark resistance from wood and tyre recyclers.
An EA survey of local authority collections indicated that 65% of councils were using the commingled method. The agency noted this method was subject to assessment under the TEEP procedure, and was concerned that three in 10 had not made their assessments public.
A popular ‘sport’ in the sector is the efforts of Eunomia’s Peter Jones to confront mis-reporting on waste issues in the national press.
Following a successful foray against the Daily Mail in 2014, he complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation about an opinion column he said was “a scattergun attack on all aspects of council waste collection”. The paper withdrew or modified parts of the online version.
Two major figures in the sector announced their retirement within days of each other. Colin Church, Defra’s resource director, said he would leave in April while Steve Lee said 2016 would be his last year as chief executive of CIWM. In the event, Church replaced Lee in October.
The New Year’s Honours list saw a CBE for Renewable Energy Association (REA) chief executive Nina Skorupska, while the association’s former director general Philip Wolfe became an MBE. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) chairman David Sigsworth, who retired a month before, got an OBE.