Gareth Tancred, chief executive of the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM), says we all have a role to play – facilities managers included – in how domestic waste is managed in the UK. CIWM Journal Online Exclusive
Every organisation creates waste of some description and, over recent years, there has been a sharp focus on how we manage that waste as society becomes increasingly attuned to the need to be more sustainable in all areas of our day-to-day life.
Whilst there has been great progress in how domestic waste is managed, although still a long way to go, this particular nut is much more difficult to crack due to the complexity of the challenge. The waste that organisations produce is not only on a larger scale but also varied alongside which you have to factor in the need to change engrained behaviours; so whilst you won’t find many people that disagree that we should avoid sending waste towards landfill the reality of it is a much tougher proposition.
We have seen innovative ways of managing our waste over recent years but, in keeping with other areas of the sustainability debate we are involved with, such as energy management, having the right tools is only half the battle. Raising awareness of the topic, explaining to people the importance of it, putting the infrastructure in place and continuing that engagement is a slow and difficult process and requires teams from across the organisation to work together to make it a reality.
FM professionals play a crucial role as this will often fall under their remit but it’s important to ensure that it isn’t something that an organisation compartmentalises and leaves to someone to get on with. This must be part of their DNA, should be underpinned by their core values and should become business as usual rather than being a side activity. It can be achieved and there are some great examples of how people are approaching this but we must ensure that we do all we can to share that insight and move this from being an example of “best practice” and move towards this being “common practice”.
As part of that insight sharing we’re working with CIWM to bring together thought leaders around a table to explore how we develop and improve the dialogue between FM and waste management professionals, how policy and legislation is driving the debate, and what impact this is having on UK plc. It will question what needs to change from an infrastructure prospective and how can we can change organisational cultures and behaviours to embed more sustainable practices. The outputs of this discussion will only form a small part of the overall debate but it will help us identify the key issues, assess what is working and identify were improvements are needed.
We also have strong relationships with professional bodies that represent other “management professions” including CIPD; building bridges across professions will be crucial if we are to move debates like sustainability forward. No group alone can solve this and none should be solely responsible for doing so. We all have a part to play and we look forward to supporting FM professionals in playing their part.
Gareth Tancred is an ambassador for RWM in Partnership with CIWM.