“The most reliable way to predict the future is to create it” Abraham Lincoln

This could have been my very last LOL piece as Chair, but I am delighted to announce that I have been appointed for another term of two years, and so you haven’t heard the last from me yet! Which means it will be the end of 2021 when I finish my next term and I can’t help but wonder where we will be by then, apart from being in another decade. Will we have left the EU? How many more general elections and prime ministers will we have had? Will the Resources and Waste Strategy and the legislation needed to underpin it be any further forward?

We are almost 12 months on from when the strategy was announced, and this was the topic for one of the presentations for our joint annual LARAC/CIWM North West event kindly hosted by Suez at their offices and transfer station in Darwen, Lancashire on 15th November. Originally, Robert Vaughan from DEFRA was due to give this talk but had to withdraw due to being in purdah pending the forthcoming general election. Luckily, our very own CEO Lee Marshall stepped in and gave a very comprehensive and welcome update on the year so far in terms of policy and consultations. We also heard from Dr Adam Read on procuring and why in-sourcing may not necessarily be the answer; Tony Watson on Blackburn with Darwen Council’s recent experiences in tendering; Sarah Hargreaves, Resources Futures, on food waste/climate change and Stephen Clarke talked about the TerraCycle initiative. The event was extremely well attended, the standards of all presentations was high, with excellent feedback received. Copies of the PowerPoints can be found here.

I also took a tour of the TerraCycle operation at Suez’s facility, which is where all the TerraCycle boxes are sent from all over the UK for sorting and bulking for onward processing. They deal with 35 different, hard to recycle, types of products and packaging including crisp packets, Pringles tubes, contact lens packaging, toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes. The scheme is funded by the individual brands, so really this is a form of EPR in action. The materials are collected by drop off points across the UK, all searchable via the TerraCycle website. Over £1m has been raised so far for charitable organisations.

As part of the TerraCycle presentation, we heard about a new scheme called Loop – a refill system which enables consumers to reuse rather than recycle/dispose of product packaging. It is due to be launched in the UK in March 2020, after trials in New York and Paris. Please have a look at the presentation here if you want to know more.

As this is my last LOL contribution of 2019, I’d just like to thank you for your continued support of LARAC. I wish you all the best of the coming season and I hope you all have a prosperous 2020!