20. 09. 2011

What a Waste?

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Comments (3)

Utter the words ‘the waste industry’, and most people’s thoughts turn automatically to seagulls wheeling noisily over smelly landfill sights, wheelie bins and wrangles over waste collections, and dodgy dealing off a Steptoe and Son broken-down lorry.
Every single aspect of last week’s RWM Exhibition (organised by EMAP at the NEC) gave the lie to that utterly redundant set of perceptions. In every field of waste management, resource efficiency and recycling, the whole place (which seemed to go on and on forever!) positively bristled with new technologies, innovative ideas and companies, and a sense of dynamism and forward-looking energy that I found incredibly uplifting.
Which probably explains the huge sense of frustration that Industry leaders feel regarding the Coalition Government’s approach to this critically important sector of the economy. They’ve seen a significant number of industry leaders (surveyed recently by RGR and Beasley Associates) express deep disappointment about the low ambition level in Defra’s recent Waste Review.
As per usual, the Government has totally overlooked the potential for this part of the cleantech industry to drive growth, jobs, skills and intellectual property. The potential investments involved are huge: anywhere between £10 billion and £15 billion will need to be invested in new treatment facilities for Municipal Solid Waste (Energy from Waste plants, Materials Recycling Facilities, Anaerobic Digestion etc.) to meet our landfill diversion targets.
And that’s just the start of it: as both commodity and energy prices soar, minimizing waste and maximising resource efficiency is rising up the corporate agenda across the whole of the economy.
So many other countries do this stuff so much better than we do – so it would be great if this ‘Greenest Government Ever’ somehow got its act together before issuing a new Waste Management Plan in 2012.
As to the RWM Exhibition itself, I suspect that this will just grow and grow – a bit like the Eco-Build Exhibition did over a three to four year period. And that can only be good for the industry – and for sustainability.

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05. 10. 2011
North Londoner

I cannot agree with suggestions that Energy from Waste (that is, incineration) of residual waste is a good idea. This stops the relentless push for waste reduction and manufacturing only products that can be recycled at end-of-use.

Energy from waste that burns methane from food waste is another matter, but that is not what the new-style Energy from Waste plants are being built for.

01. 10. 2011

Hmmm - true to form, our Greenest Government Ever has managed to take decisive action even before they've issued their plans!

Heartening to see that, ever respectful of our rights and entitlements as citizens, they are investing £250 million to reinstate the most fundamental of all rights - the weekly bin collection.

When money is tight, these hard choices have to be made. Clearly, supporting the development of a cleantech sector and creating value, jobs, businesses in the process was never going to do as much for growth (the coalition's No. 1 priority) as a weekly bin collection.

20. 09. 2011
Ray Georgeson

Fully agree Jonathon!

Should any of your readers like to read the full results of the RGR/Beasley survey, they can be found at

best wishes

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