Stewart Highlights Need To Get Senior Influencers On Board

Ck5sw7gVEAETou-Defra Minister Rory Stewart says that the resources and waste industry needs to make sure it is winning the argument with senior individuals over resource efficiency.

Speaking at this year’s Resourcing the Future Conference, the Resources Minister stressed the need to keep these senior decision makers “on side”, or risk losing funding and legislative support from Government.

He referenced an incident where a senior influencer told him recycling was a waste of time. He said these are the people the sector needs to win the argument against.

“We need to win the argument with those people. If we don’t we’re not going to get money out of them and we’re not going to get legislative support from the government. Make sure you keep those people on side.”

“I met a very senior individual who astonished me by saying ‘personally I think we should just be burying all this stuff, I don’t know why you’re wasting your time’,” Stewart said.

“This is a highly-educated man with an enormous amount of power. We need to win the argument with those people. If we don’t we’re not going to get money out of them and we’re not going to get legislative support from the government. Make sure you keep those people on side.”

Stewart also highlighted a two-tier challenge that faces the industry. The first level is communication and the second is the need to be “really practical”.

“We should not take for granted that the public always understand why we are doing this. We must never give up the relentless communication for what our central purpose is.

“And we need to get better, us in Government as well, at being really really practical.”

Stewart referenced separate collections as an example, saying the Government and industry needs to get their heads around what it feels like to recycle in a tower block, for instance, and to have a multitude of bins in what is likely to be a small kitchen.

He also gave a nod to outgoing chief executive of WRAP, Liz Goodwin, for her contributions to the industry particularly around food waste.

Following his speech, the Minister afforded a unique opportunity for delegates to not only ask him questions, but to open a two-way conversation, to give suggestions and give him the benefit of the sector’s advice. “Tell me what you would be doing if you were standing here?” he said.

The Minister closed his speech saying that one of the major challenges for the resources and waste sector is “being honest with each other”.

“It’s very convenient for politicians and companies to say things that sound good, without meaning them,” he said.

He said that the resources sector needs to come into that discussion.

Resourcing the Future Conference’s (RTF) theme this year is on the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package and runs over two days.

RTF is a yearly conference run by CIWM, ESA and the Resource Association.

 

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