FCC Environment says that the waste management industry needs to “step-up” in response to new global research that says urban populations do not value waste management services as much as other infrastructure, such as transport.
Urban infrastructure insights 2015 was commissioned by FCC Environment’s parent company FCC (Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas), the Spanish environment, infrastructure and water group, and undertaken by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
Respondents support clean-energy initiatives, the report found, but citizens are less aware of the value that water and waste projects can provide.
FCC says this is good news for cities investing in energy upgrades, but for cities trying to develop non-energy-related sustainability initiatives, these results suggest they will face an “uphill battle” in winning public support.
FCC Environment – “The waste management industry needs to get better at demonstrating its value to the public in order to take its rightful place alongside major utilities and infrastructure such as water and transport”
Despite a pressing need for maintenance and upgrades to often ageing services such as waste collection, treatment and recycling, the research revealed that the value of “hidden infrastructure” is more often only recognised by policy makers.
Waste management is an integral element of the core infrastructure and services that need major investment within the next five years if they are to remain fit for purpose, according to 68% of respondents.
However, investment in waste management infrastructure requires public support, which is only possible if the population as a whole realises and appreciates the value of waste services, FCC says.
An FCC Environment spokesperson commented: “The waste management industry needs to get better at demonstrating its value to the public in order to take its rightful place alongside major utilities and infrastructure such as water and transport. The general public might think we only empty their bins but we do so much more including generating energy and recovering materials for reprocessing from waste.
“It’s encouraging that policy makers see the value of waste management infrastructure. What the industry needs is this to be recognised with consistent legislation and policy from the Government to encourage the investment that the report highlights will be needed in the next five years.”
FCC Environment – “The general public might think we only empty their bins but we do so much more including generating energy and recovering materials for reprocessing from waste”
Over 400 urban and infrastructure policy makers and business executives across the world were interviewed about the state of global urban infrastructure and services, and how city leaders can engage with citizens and service providers to secure support and investment for these projects.
The report also highlights the upcoming trend of smart citizen solutions based on the integration and management of data, and cites examples in New York and Glasgow where WiFi enabled smart screens and city dashboards gives citizens real-time information on traffic flow, weather alerts, accidents, and waiting times for rail and bus services.
An FCC Environment said: “Our industry should take advantage of any new technology opportunities that enable us to communicate more effectively with service users. Encouragingly, there have already been developments in the sector including bins with sensors which can tell when they are full and send alerts to be emptied as well as apps to report instances of flytipping and provide information on local recycling services.”
FCC Environment recently adopted the electronic duty of care system to replace the paper waste transfer note system. See the CIWM Journal Online video interview on why they switched, and why you should too.