Latest thinking and Health and Safety in the Industry

This page presents the latest thinking and research in our industry, and aims provide the latest information and  stretch imaginations.

If you have an idea or piece of research or report that you think should appear here, then please get in touch at 

5th May 2017
1.  Revised Waste Fires Guidance
2. Waste Fire Burn Trials - Summary non-technical report

23rd January 2017

The latest from the Merseyside Waste and Recycling Authority
Click here to read about our successes

31st October 2016
The Environmental Services Association produced two reports in October - both of which are very interesting for Local Authorities with an eye on producer responsibility.

This posits 4 scenarios:
"The report sets out for discussion four possible models, not in any order of preference but starting with the one closest to the current PRN system and ending with the one least like it. Thus, in the first model, it would be possible to use the cheapest packaging waste available to meet specific targets, and in the final option compliance schemes would be responsible for managing the collection and sorting of all household packaging waste:
• In Option 1, reprocessors and exporters would still issue evidence notes, but these would no longer have a value and would be provided free of charge to the collector or his agent (a MRF or processor) – similar to a transfer note. Instead, compliance schemes and individual compliers would contract with - and pay - collectors of packaging waste or their agents for the evidence notes they need to meet the recovery and recycling targets.
• Option 2 would be similar, except that the targets would be split between packaging waste from household and from commercial/industrial (C&I) sources. This would require schemes to acquire evidence notes to cover the total recycling obligation, of which x% would have to be household notes.
• In Option 3, there would also be separate targets for household and C&I packaging waste, but compliance schemes would contract directly with local authorities (even where segregated collection is undertaken by a private collector that is appointed by the local authority). Schemes would fund a proportion of the collection cost, subject to conditions relating to the quality of the collected material. For C&I waste, compliance schemes would focus on encouraging more material to be collected and ensuring that activity is accurately recorded.
• In Option 4, local authorities would no longer have any operational role in the segregated collection of packaging waste from households, as compliance schemes would take full operational and financial responsibility. C&I packaging waste would be addressed in the same way as in Option 3."
It is well worth a read Download here

This policy paper explores the role that EPR could play both in tackling the significant cost to Local Authorities of clearing up litter, and also in engaging the public through funding anti-litter campaigns.  It examines 3 case studies studying options for dealing with 1. Cigarette butts, 2. chewing gum and 3. fast food, drinks and confectionary packaging. 
An interesting paper for local authorities Download here


31st October 2016

€80 bn in EU Grant Funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme

Funding from the EU's Horizon 2020 Programme can help UK firms to develop new environmental technologies to help increase competitiveness, according to Tony Lesowiec of Keystone Innovation Ltd. 

It is essential that the UK and the rest of the EU stay ahead of global completion if we are to remain competitive in the sector. Historically, many firms have competed by driving down costs of their products and services (and so eroding profits) and by establishing strong customer relationships to rely on repeat business.

However, in order to keep competing and remaining at the forefront, these activities are not enough anymore. The sector must compete by offering a higher value differentiation. Many firms would welcome the opportunity to do exactly this, by developing new innovative products and processes, but the financial development costs and technical risks prevent them from doing so. The consequence is that many great ideas sit on the shelf and don’t convert into game-changing commercial opportunities.

However, help is available. The EU in a funding programme called Horizon 2020 (or H2020). H2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever with €80 bn of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) to organisations. Grants are available from €50k to develop business plans, to several million Euros for final production plants. Unlike bank loans, grant funding does not need to be repaid, also unlike cash from venture capitalists or business angels, there is no equity or intellectual property dilution. The recent Brexit vote has not changed status, the UK and EU governments are continuing to encourage UK business to access this H2020 support.

This EU funding source has already been successfully used in the environmental sector for various development projects in the fields of: materials recycling and re-use, (precious metals, wood, plastics, food waste, electronic equipment etc.), carpet and textiles recycling, conversion of spent vehicle tyres into valuable materials, low-grade heat recovery from water, industrial waste water treatment and various biotechnology processes.

Further details on H2020 funding programme can be found here:

If you have an idea that you would like to explore if it qualifies for H2020 funding, you can contact Tony Lesowiec, at Keystone Innovation a specialist grant organisation. Tony has over 21 years’ experience in winning such funding, and with his team, he has helped access over €100M. Tony can be contacted by email at or m: 0790 6069912. 


30th September 2016

British Coatings Federation survey reveals barriers to recycling leftover paint as faced by local authorities in the UK

The British Coatings Federation (BCF) has unveiled the results of its 2016 PaintCare local authorities survey which reveals the barriers to recycling leftover paint as faced by Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) across the UK.   Read on

30th September 2016

Through product giving companies can support thousands of charities and millions of people

Can you help re-direct useful basic essentials from landfill and help get them to people who need them?  Read on


17th June 2016

Recycling Champions
by Richard Featherstone

Recycling champions are closer than you think. Richard Featherstone offers a thought provoking observation and solution while sitting on the recycling plateau in an updated version of his article first featured in the May CIWM Journal 

Recycling performance has flat-lined. It sounds like waste prevention strategists are getting despondent about the prospects of reaching recycling and waste reduction targets in the next few years. Who can blame them? 

The assumption is that, to increase recycling performance, we must spend lots more money on intense services and infrastructure improvements. However, as the public sector has a shrinking pot of money there is nothing we can do but sit back until 2020 and say it was beyond our control. Should we let the word “impossible” enter our thinking? Even if we don’t succeed it is our duty and responsibility to show that we did everything we could. So here’s one of the crucial variables we could try in an attempt to maintain recycling levels or even push a little towards the 50% target.

A Bold Statement

When it comes to looking for ways to increase recycling we automatically focus on the public. We spend significant amounts on advertising and marketing as if this is the only way to convince them to do the right thing. But let’s for a moment turn our attention to our operatives: our high-vis-jacket-wearing asset.

There is one specific measure that industry managers could take that is of marginal cost but would have an enduring impact – never mind the public – there are 118,000 (Digest of Waste and Resource Statistics 2015 Edition, Defra) potential recycling champions already out there who we could treat more as an asset: I’m referring to the waste industry operatives. These are workers who don the high-vis jackets every day, who tread our streets and are face to face with the public. My question is, are they getting enough line management support to think recycling, encourage recycling and promote recycling? After all, they are the front line and most effective face to face ambassadors for the industry.

The Problem Manifest

Think of the number of times you hear about the public’s negative reaction to recycling because ”the collectors don’t seem to bother much: why should I”?

The times when the public are walking along the pavement and see a recycling sack being thrown into the back of what is ostensibly a refuse vehicle are too common for comfort. This act of miscommunication does long-term and sometimes irreparable damage to public motivation and performance on recycling. Managers should recognise these small but significant details and come up with team tactics to avoid them. For instance it might be justifiable for the operative to be proactive and explain that the recycling sack will be sorted later on due to improved technology down at the sorting plant. It becomes vital for the operative to be aware of these situations and be ready to communicate an appropriate response.

What we want is for recycling to be instinctive through managing behaviour change. So often we can see operatives working really well with the public at recycling centres to put the recyclable materials in the right place. Yet there are no separate bins in their tea room. We are not helping to make recycling normal but only a job that needs doing.

With my reuse experience I can see the contrast where it is normal for the managers and operatives to demonstrate their commitment to reuse every day in every situation. They know where their incentive comes from: a determination to alleviate poverty through reuse or because they hate to see good furniture go to waste; often it is a combination of both.

Of course there are good examples of recycling teams that are committed and we should hear more from them about how they have turned things around.

It’s all about personal belief. A change of mind-set is called for and this can be done over time with coaching – as distinct from line management. If the concept of managing combined with coaching works in the sporting profession why should it not be applicable for our line of work?

In the recycling field we do not quite see the same evidence of personal commitment, attitude or abhorrence of unnecessary waste in every plastic bottle, drinks can, newspaper, or beer bottle being picked up.

Coaching Sessions In Detail

A template training session plan for coaching is in draft which will support line management staff. It can be delivered as a programme to operatives at the workplace or when out in the street doing the job.

Change of mind-set – it’s all about finding out what their personal belief is in recycling.

The coaching will help to develop a personal understanding of how significant they are as operatives. In the eyes of the public they are the professionals, the experts, they are in-the-know. When it comes to whether the public recycle or not, the operatives are setting the example to be followed. Seen to be doing the right thing is important, for example, can operatives sort the contamination from a recycling bin or bag it’s easy to see? In this type of situation the message to the public could be reported as, “you nearly got it right, we had to do a bit extra this time. We’re trying harder, you can too”.

What Can Be Done In Practical Terms?

How could we achieve a change in operative behaviour you might ask? Think about this as an outline of possible managerial and coaching actions:

Setting out the service specification and job description to make clear expectations about recycling;

Better consultation with operatives for their ideas on how to increase recycling within their jobs

Elevate the recognition and value of the work of operatives

Coaching sessions to support line management

Organise meetings and workshops for operatives and line managers – if we at a senior level gain inspiration and motivation from networking, why shouldn’t operatives?

It might be unrealistic to change the personal recycling commitment of all the existing operatives. The alternative is to introduce more emphasis on working as a recycling ambassador at the recruitment stage. In two years it could transform the culture of the workforce.

Of course, there will be some reading this who will have made great progress with positive team management towards the idea I’m articulating. The sector deserves to hear more about progress in waste team behaviour. Let us grasp the essence of focusing more on the potential of our operatives rather than just criticising the public.

The public will, over time, be inclined to follow a good example: it’s human nature. Our operatives in the high-vis jackets are made highly visible for health and safety reasons, so let’s make them highly visible for recycling reasons too.

Richard is an independent specialist and is a lifelong advocate of the principles and benefits of reuse. He has worked on the innovation of reuse services and the sector’s infrastructure for 25 years, most recently in London where he currently works on a project to reduce bulky waste on London housing estates. He is a founder member of the FRN and a fellow of the RSA.


5th June2016
FCC Environment

Employees Pave Way for Improved Health and Safety 

An innovative and proactive approach to improved health and safety within the waste and recycling industry is being pioneered by operatives working at the sharp end.

Practices are being put in place, led by employees and employee / safety representatives themselves, to enhance employee engagement and liaison with senior management across both public and private sectors - with the sole aim of saving lives, reducing accidents and ill health.

The waste and recycling industry has one of the UK’s highest fatality and serious injury rates of all industry sectors and much work has been done over the past five years to reduce this figure. 

But now the Health & Safety Executive, Waste Industry Safety & Health forum (WISH) and colleagues from both private and public sector have embarked on a number of ambitious projects to tackle the worryingly high figures.

With the ambitious aim to achieve a 10% year-on-year reduction on RIDDOR-reported accidents and a zero death rate in the industry, WISH established project groups addressing;

  •             •          Management and leadership
  •             •          Employee engagement
  •             •          Safer workplaces
  •             •          Building competency
  •             •          Creating healthier workplaces
  •             •          Providing support for SMEs.

Employee / Safety representatives from all over the UK attended a workshop held at GMB Offices in London, to work through the realities faced in their daily routine, share experiences and identify good practice; all with one clear objective – to identify how employee engagement with health and safety can be improved within the waste & recycling industry.

Following on from the success of the Health and Safety Leadership Tool which helps leaders and senior managers of organisations identify improvements in health and safety performance, culture and their own leadership behaviours it was recognised that improvements in employee engagement were also required.

The main areas of employee engagement identified through the workshop as opportunities for improvement are

  •             •          Communication
  •             •          Visibility
  •             •          Workforce Attitudes
  •             •          Opportunities to Contribute

The workshop was a pioneering move in itself bringing together so many representatives from across all sectors of the waste and recycling industry.

Operatives who work directly at an operational level on the vehicles, tip sites, weighbridges and similar gave a flavour of working realities and relationships with more senior management to identify challenges and opportunities – with communication at an appropriate, regular and relevant level being key.

The feedback and outcomes from the workshop will help inform and develop a similar tool for organisations to improve employee engagement across all sectors of the waste industry – bottom-up.

Janet Viney - HSE  We have had an excellent  response  from across the industry and our task now is to harness the commitment and enthusiasm and move forward to develop a workable solution to improve employee engagement.

John McClean – GMB Trade Union  There's no getting away from the fact it's a dangerous industry. We wanted to learn from their expertise; they're the ones at the sharp end who know the pressures and the risks. And we wanted them to share that expertise to identify the good practices which make sense and work on the ground. From that perspective alone the exercise has already proved to be a great success and I have no doubt that they share all of our determination to cut accidents and fatalities to zero.

Sarah Golemblewski Health & Safety Manager – North Kesteven District Council - Public Sector  What really came across was the level of enthusiasm and engagement. To be in a room with so many people so committed to health and safety was really encouraging and the fact their companies and organisations sent them shows their level of commitment too. It's clear that they all want to be a part of driving this forward.

Paul Stokes – Head of SHEQ -  FCC Environment UK – Private Sector  In defining a new positive, proactive culture, we were all agreed that the safety agenda has to be driven, partly from the top, partly from the bottom, with improvements in relationships from top to bottom. 

Despite the good work already underway, in the past five years there have been 37 fatalities within the water & waste industry sector - 33 of them in the waste sector.

Five of these were in 2014/15, all within waste.

Nine involved being struck by moving vehicles, and a further five through context with machinery

The sector accounts for 170,000 people; around 0.6% of the UK workforce.

Fatality rates within the water & waste sector since 2010 has been between five and ten times higher than the 'all industry' rate, at 2,04 fatalities per 100,000 employees.

In waste alone the rate in 2014/15 was 3.64 per 100,000 employees, fluctuating annually at between five and 20 times the 'all industry' rate.

Every year around 6,000 workers in waste & water sustain a non-fatal injury at work– most (around 5,000 ) are among waste workers.

Within the waste sector 4.1% of works sustained a workplace industry over the past five years – a rate more than twice the 'all-industry' rate of 2.0% and much greater than water & waste's combined 2.6%.

Most long-term 'specified' injuries (70%)are caused by slips, trips or falls, falling from height or bring struck by an object.

Lifting and handling are responsible for a third (36%) of over-seven-day injuries, and slipped, trips and falls 27%.

More than 95% of the sector's work days lost in a year through injury - averaging unto 145,000 - occur within the waste spectrum. This gives an average of 0.7 days per worker compared with 0.17 days across all industries.

The waste sections account for more than 90% of days lost through illness across the watt & waste sector; unto 1.9 days per worker against 0.8 across all industry.

  • Injury statistics for Waste Sector:
  • ·         HSE have a number of ways of measuring the scale of workplace injury.
  • ·         Over the last five years official statistics show there have been 33 worker fatalities in the waste sector, representing a rate of 5.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers.  Putting this number in context, the fatal injury rate in the waste sector is over 10 times greater than the rate across all industries and almost three times greater than the rate in the construction sector. (Source: RIDDOR) 
  • ·         HSE’s best estimate of the total scale of non-fatal workplace injury suggests there has been an average of 5,000 workers injured by their work in each of the last five years in the waste sector.   (This estimate includes all workplace injuries, not just those meeting RIDDOR reporting criteria).  This is equivalent to 4.1% of workers sustaining a non-fatal workplace injury in the sector each year and is higher than the average rate across all industries (2.0%).  It compares with a rate of 3.0% in the construction sector. (Source: Labour Force Survey)
  • ·         Despite the relatively higher rate of non-fatal injury in the waste sector, HSE statistics provide possible indications that performance in the sector is improving.  RIDDOR notifications of reportable non-fatal injury have fallen over the last three years with a reduction in the rate of reportable non-fatal injuries in this period.  (Source: RIDDOR)

The Waste sector is defined by Division 38 within the 2007 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 


11th January 2016

EwasteR Project

Towards the end of November Jennifer Perry, LARAC SSO, attended the EwasteR National Workshop in Tottenham Hale.  Hosted by LCRN and with contributions from WAMITAB and UCLAN the workshop introduced the EwasteR project - a consortium of of 13 organisations from Cyprus, Italy, Poland and the UK.  The aim of the project is to develop and establish a new high-quality interdisciplinary curriculum for the E-Waste Recycling and Re-Use management sector in Europe, creating a link between the production and the waste phases of a product, and incraasing the sense of initiative and entrepreneurship as well as the quality and potential of employability and mobility.  In short, it was looking into developing a reliable qualification  on the refurbishment of WEEE which also gives its students experience and training in how to set up and run their own businesses.  The qualification is aimed at people who might not otherwise benefit from further training, and although including classroom and virtual elements has a strong work-based training provision. A report on the workshop is in the members' area of the website.  More information is available in the EwasteR brochure and the EwasteR Newsletter.  We will be reporting back as the project develops. 


4th November 2015
HSE Health and Safety Stats for 2014-2015 

This year the stats don’t include the recycling sector as ‘it is small compared to the waste sector’ and reportedly doesn’t effect the overall figures much.  This makes comparison to previous years a bit difficult - but it reports there were 5,000 work related injuries last year - with reporting of those injuries judged to be about half of the incidents in reality. There were 11 related deaths last year (5 workers and 6 members of the public).  This doesn’t include the figures from the tragic Glasgow accident which is back in the news at this time.
Download the 1415 HSE accident and illness figures

4th November 2015
HSE Research
Supervisor and team leader competence

New research published on supervisor and team leader competences in the waste and recycling industry.  Subsequently a WISH working group is being set up to take forward the findings of this research to improve supervisor competence in the waste and recycling industry. 

If you are interested in being involved, please email 


12th January 2015

Stijn Van Ewijk from the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources has sent us this very interesting article which he has published in the Science Direct online Journal of Cleaner production 
Introduction:  This open access paper explores the limitations of the waste hierarchy for achieving absolute reductions in material throughput in the economy. The waste hierarchy is an established rule of thumb for waste management and prioritizes waste prevention over reuse, recycling, incineration, and landfill. The authors describe the origins of the waste hierarchy and compare its original aims with its current use. It is found that the waste hierarchy can serve to minimize landfill but may not always lead to the best environmental outcome. The implementation of the hierarchy has emphasized avoidance of the least preferred options but paid little attention to achieving the top priority of prevention. Furthermore, reuse and recycling can reduce primary inputs but the hierarchy allows the total material throughput to grow unrestrained. Recycling figures have greatly improved over the last decades, but a distinction between open-loop and closed-loop recycling is necessary to further limit the environmental impacts of material flows. The paper concludes that the hierarchy in itself is not sufficient and instead needs to be used within an overarching framework to achieve dematerialization of the economy. The article was published with Open Access in the Journal of Cleaner Production. 

Link to the open access article:
Link to the UCL Institute of Sustainable Resources - The UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR) generates knowledge in the globally sustainable use of natural resources and trains the future leaders of this field. Our definition of resources is broad, and our research approach is equally inclusive, bringing together experts from across UCL. We are part of The Bartlett: UCL’s global faculty of the built environment. Visit the site to explore the latest research and articles. 

October 2014 - Professor Paul Ekins at the 2014 LARAC Conference  - The paper is entitled:  Why we need Resource Efficiency Targets:  Delivering a Circular Economy in the UK Professor Paul Ekins is Director: Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources  

Download the presentation 

September 2014 - On the same subject is the booklet presented by the RWM Ambassadors  - entitled Ever-Decreasing Circles - Closing in on the circular economy - more food for thought