When things get tough we tend to become innovative. During the last three months, I’ve been witness to a lot of ‘new thinking’, and met a lot of new people taking the lead in our industry and they are keen to get the LARAC perspective, which is very encouraging.
There are new people now part of Waste Network Chairs, and there have been structural changes a DEFRA. Both of which have led to very useful meetings and although discussions have taken place under Chatham house rules I’m very pleased to be able to say DEFRA are keen to work with LARAC to get local authority recycling professionals input into their upcoming 25-Year Environment plan. The plan will look at many things including the shape of recycling to come in the country, post Brexit, and how to get the best value from recycling, and encourage genuine waste minimisation amongst our householders. At this stage this work is looking very promising and it’ll be great to be involved right from the very beginning – getting our view included at a fundamental level.
A lot of the work I’ve been doing this quarter has been linked to the costs and funding around the collection of packaging materials and food waste. As LARAC Chair, I act as lead for and ACP task group – working on trying to identify the ‘true’ cost of collection of packaging materials which are covered under the current producer responsibility requirements. Initially, I have looked at costs for authorities within my own partnership, which runs source separated, two-stream and fully comingled collections. The group found the work so far very interesting, and I am now working with WRAP to produce costs from their extensive modelling of collections undertaken for the consistency in recycling work.
In a similar vein, I spoke at an all-party parliamentary round table discussion called ‘Towards UK-wide separate food waste collections’. I presented the current modelling we are undertaking in Staffordshire as part of the WRAP consistency work, which has shown that introducing separate food waste across Staffordshire will push costs up, not save anything, even with reduced frequency of residual waste collections. There is therefore not a positive financial case in all areas, and any mandatory provision would need to be supported with long term sustainable funding, which could come from industry itself.
I also presented the LA perspective at the ADBA Conference, focusing on the current financial pressures and our resistance to any mandatory measures being introduced to force separate collection of food waste in England without any long term sustainable funding.
Finally, I was lucky enough to be at the inauguration ceremony in London for the new CIWM President, Dr Margaret Bates; I wish her well in her new role and look forward to what will surely be an interesting year ahead for us all.