Andy Doran, an RWM ambassador and senior manager sustainability and recycling development at Novelis Europe, looks at what’s been achieved in the industry, at home and overseas, since the General Election
The long-awaited summer break is upon us and provides an opportune time to reflect on the activities of recent months and those expected in the months ahead. As the English Parliament also breaks for its summer recess, my initial challenge was to assess whether anything had been achieved since the tumult of the May elections.
I think on balance probably not, but the respective new Ministers are just starting to find their feet whilst the Chancellor sharpens his pencil once again for some further future cuts in public services. The imperative of turning waste into resources; cost into benefit therefore becomes ever more pressing.
As an industry I am hugely impressed by and proud of the progress that the once “dirty man of Europe” has made to be a comfortable mid-table performer on recycling, waste generation etc. But as always in life, just as you feel that you’re making some progress , someone moves the goalposts, in this case the potential recycling targets and new measures in the revised EU Circular Economy Package (CEP).
Serious ambition and action on resources policy on a par to the CEP proposals is only really being progressed in Edinburgh and Cardiff, but in London at least we are starting to see the beginning of reporting on the MRF Code of Practice to transparently drive performance forward.
I’ve long since stopped caring about the term waste – beauty (or resource) is in the eye of the beholder but if we are to make a reality of the ideas and ideals of a circular economy , we all need to start acting differently. For Novelis, alongside our strong packaging business we continue to grow our support for a resurgent UK car manufacturing sector by offering closed loop solutions to customers like Jaguar Land Rover and others where the word waste no longer exists and terms like “value chains” predominate.
We’re all on a journey to a resource-based industry, it’s just the speed that everyone will arrive that differs. So as I look ahead to the post-summer get together at the RWM (stand number 4G20-H21 if you’re passing), it is rejuvenated in the thought that some issues like resources and climate change are so preeminent that despite our individual differences and interpretations the core themes are the same and actions, however stilted are actions nonetheless.
To that end I also hope that the business community will find the space to voice their support for a global agreement on climate change and at the same time draw the public’s attention to the important role that resource efficiency and management play in carbon reduction. There were some promising signs in the Lima negotiations in 2014 so let’s hope that binding commitments are made in Paris this year. Any such commitment will help underpin if not accelerate the development of so called green economies globally and that’s to everybody’s benefit.