Representing LARAC Members

Did I say the last quarter was a busy one? Well, there was certainly no slow-down in the run-up to the summer break. I represented LARAC on 9 occasions sharing some pretty knowledgeable company!

The quarter kicked off with the LARAC Scotland Conference in Glasgow, a new venue this year and a full accompanying exhibition. It was certainly a buzzing event, and one I was proud to be present at on behalf of LARAC. For someone from an English authority it was great to have the opportunity to compare the approaches made to a resource economy from the devolved governments – this was made possible because of the address made by Andy Rees of the Welsh Government. A little bit of envy was felt by me …. There was also an update from SEPA (The Scottish Environment Protection Agency) which again made a very interesting comparison to the very different approach made in England by the Environment Agency.

Later on in May, I took my part in the continuing WEEE project – a project undertaken for DEFRA by me and Lee Marshall from LARAC and Phil Conran from 360 Environmental. The aim of the project is to investigate leakage of WEEE from the system of DCFs operated by local authorities – this possibility is a particular concern of DEFRA. Having evaluated WasteDataFlow data and posed questions to very WDA in the UK, we will present our findings at RWM. This consultancy-type work is a new area of activity for LARAC. One we will continue to consider as an extra source of income so that we can continue to keep membership fees for local authorities down at a very reasonable level.

A busy May continued with meetings with WRAP and the EMG Awards for Excellence, a very good venue for networking and with cross-industry organisations and hammering home the LARAC and local authority perspective.

June saw me at the ACP Industry Working Group – we are looking at the effects the proposed EU circular economy package may have if it becomes law before we exit the EU.

The next two days were taken up with the NCAS conference organised by EMG and DEFRA’s Behavioural Insights Policy School. I chaired the afternoon session of the NCAS Conference and also spoke about bulky waste and the challenges it presents, in particular difficult products such as mattresses. I detailed the work we are undertaking at the Staffordshire Waste partnership to tackle the issues, as this material represents the only items we are now landfilling, 1.5 – 2% of Staffordshire’s waste arisings. There were other interesting presentations, West Sussex talking about introducing charges for none-household items, and why they have now suspended them, and Eunomia who gave an in-depth presentation of fire prevention plans.

The following day, as LARAC Chair, I was one of four industry experts in DEFRA’s Behavioural Insights Policy School. This project is for young civil servants, not just from DEFRA, tasked in coming up with ideas which could help boost the country’s recycling performance. There were six groups of people who each had a half-hour slot to interview me and the other experts about the challenges in raising recycling performance, as well as testing some of their ideas on us. It was a welcome opportunity to get our position across.

Towards the end of June I spoke at Carpet Recycling UK’s annual conference, and was honoured to be asked to present their awards in the afternoon. I was asked to talk to members about the challenges around bulky waste collections and disposal, which I did looking at issues from both a WCA and WDA point of view. I spoke in depth about my authority’s arrangements with Furniture Mine, a North Staffordshire Charity, and the work we are doing as part of the Staffordshire Waste Partnership that I mentioned above.

July saw me at the LARAC Wales Conference, another extremely useful event for members in Caersws, Powys. Attendance was very high – and we had some fascinating presentations including insight on wood and nappy recycling and an in-depth of the introduction of both 3 and 4-weekly collections at Conwy – this was made more interesting still by the early findings revealed after nine months – we would love to hear more on that next year. Andy Rees was there again, presenting in his own country and it was good to hear his ideas on the circular economy involving industry, indeed one delegate even suggested we should give him more time in the future!

Finally, in July LARAC held its, now annual, joint Midlands event with CIWM. As before we were hosted by Craemer at their wheeled-bin manufacturing plant in Telford. We were due to have a keynote speaker from DEFRA but unfortunately they were called to another meeting at the last minute, which left me to give their presentation. An interesting experience! We then held a debating session to talk around a number of questions posed by DEFRA. Answers and comments have now been collated, and will be sent to DEFRA. Other presentations featured Biffa Waste Services ‘DROPS’ programme, and a useful insight on the issue of noise from glass collections. BARTEC demonstrated their new in-cab software which has some useful safety related modules. All of the presentations have been loaded onto our website so login and take a look at those and the presentations from both Scotland and Wales Conferences.

I hope to see you at our national conference in October and look forward to hearing about your innovative ideas via our Celebration Awards.