CIWM deputy chief executive, Chris Murphy, concludes this week’s series of articles on the highlights of the last 12 months. And he concludes with not just one, but an array of positive points…
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When offered the opportunity to write about the CIWM highlight of the year I had great difficulty in isolating a single issue so have lumped together a number of key subjects under one broad title, that of promoting CIWM and what it stands for. When talking to members either directly at meetings or indirectly through the CIWM publication and surveys; the members have consistently said they want their Institution to take a stance on key topical issues and speak authoritatively.
We have taken that on board and I believe we have made great strides in the past 12 months. In that time we have been key partners in three EU funded projects completed a review and published a new strategy for the organisation (the ‘hands-on’ volunteer’s toolkit will go live very shortly). We have also commissioned research on topical issues and responded to almost one consultation a week. More importantly we have promoted this work through all media including hard and electronic copy, press and media statements, Twitter, video and radio interview. The waste and resources industry now knows that CIWM has a position on all the key issues and is willing to comment.
CIWM’s special interest groups (SIGs) have also been active, in particular the healthcare waste SIG. The group has produced two guidance documents over the last year, on pre-acceptance audits for large healthcare waste producers and an introductory guide to healthcare waste management in England and Wales. The latter is now hosted on the CIWM Journal Online website and was a major success in promoting best practice of managing healthcare waste for small producers and our members.
Such comments and statements aren’t by any means about shooting from the hip. We have commissioned and undertaken our own research to provide the underpinning evidence for these statements. The production and export of solid recovered and refuse derived fuels has long been an issue for CIWM members. We therefore commissioned research on the subject in order for us to comment on the sustainability of export of a valuable energy resource and the effect this has on infrastructure development in the UK, backed up by evidence.
With that second matter in mind we commissioned further research into the available data on commercial and industrial waste arisings and the respective treatment capacity. While data on municipal waste has improved with the onset of WasteDataFlow, it remains intangible for commercial and industrial (C&I) waste; hence planning for adequate treatment infrastructure is an imprecise science at best.
Further pieces of work are underway on the impact of austerity measures on the provision of local authority services and the interface between the waste and resource industry and the circular economy.
The research will identify if there is a direct relationship between financial restrictions on council spending and the provision of key services such as waste and recycling collection and local environment quality. Is there a direct relationship between the stabilising of recycling rates in England where public sector investment has in effect ceased whereas both have increased in Wales?
Is the industry prepared for the circular economy, what do we understand by the term and how do we embrace what will involve a culture change in business modelling?
Whatever the answer to these and other questions one thing is for sure; CIWM will be making the most of the results of the research to promote policies, make statements and to represent members in the media and corridors of power.