The 2016/17 Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) President, Professor Margaret Bates, was inaugurated yesterday in front of over 150 guests in Terrace Pavilion of the House of Commons.
The incoming President used the occasion to praise the industry and emphasise its impact on our everyday lives.
“The waste and resource sector is an amazing sector to be part of; it is both friendly and supportive, and innovative and cutting edge,” she said. “We persuade a large number of people every day to think about their waste, rinse it and put it out separately for recycling even though there is no direct benefit to them at all – can you think of another area that could make similar claims?”
However, in outlining the themes for her presidential year, Professor Bates highlighted the fact that there is much more to be done on waste prevention and reuse, which she said is “a relatively neglected area of waste policy”.
Bates argued that while the ways in which we treat and recycle waste are constantly improving, too much on these aspects of the Waste Hierarchy without sufficient consideration of the options at the top.
“I believe, be essential to delivering on a circular economy – whatever our UK version of a circular economy may be,” she said.
Reporting for Duty
Making the case for a renewed focus on reuse, the President took the opportunity to launch the CIWM’s latest report. (See WMW Story)
“For me and the other members of the project steering group, it was very important that this report was a positive piece of work, celebrating the successes of the reuse sector and drawing on all the great experiences and practices out there,” she explained.
“We wanted a State of the Nation Report that acknowledged not only the challenges and issues, but really focused on the ways these had been overcome. A report that doesn’t just leave the reader thinking why you should reuse, but is more about why on earth would you not reuse?”
Staying on the topic of changing behaviour, Bates went on to outline the CIWM’s current piece of research into technology’s impact on consumption patterns and the role of the supply chain, which is being carried out by John Twitchen at ENV23 for her forthcoming Presidential Report.
Thanking members of the retail sector and design community for their input, she welcomed the “real desire for innovation” in the marketplace and called on brands, retailers and local government to work together to help change wasteful consumption patterns in the future.
“The potential influence of ‘Millennials’ (people born between 1980 and 2000) could be profound. ’Usage’ of a convenient, reliable, customer-focused service is more important than ‘ownership’ of a product - why own a car when you can easily hail a lift?” noted Bates.
Technology, she said, is also changing our eating habits, with the potential to reduce food waste:
“Food waste is an important issue and there are some brilliant opportunities for waste reduction through menuisation and servitisation together with the proliferation of apps designed to tackle food waste.
“The wide adoption of online grocery shopping, combined with uberisation, smart technology in the home and much smarter use of sales data, has the potential to bring just-in-time meals and ingredients direct to your kitchen, minimising consumer packaging and food waste in the home, and utilising refillable and returnable packaging.”
In terms of being able to respond to these and other challenges, she said that the UK waste and resources industry needs:
“Robust, fit for purpose policy and legislation, a culture of innovation that is supported and can respond to change, effective responsibility for resources through the whole value chain…, and a sector which today’s tech-savvy young people want to be a part of, with qualifications, skills and careers structures to support them.”
Margaret has been involved in wastes management for 25 years. After graduating with a BSc in Applied Biology, she was offered a Department of the Environment funded PhD looking at the effects of heavy metals on gas production in landfill and since then has progressed from lecturer to professor at the University of Northampton.
A member of the CIWM East Anglian Centre Council and Chair of CIWM’s Scientific and Technical Committee for the last six years, Margaret has overseen the commissioning of research that has helped to raise the profile of the Institution and represented CIWM on the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) enquiry into waste exports.
She has been involved in a number of national and international projects in topic areas including waste and human health, sustainable procurement, landfill fires, resource efficiency for businesses, and developing the policy and infrastructure for electronic waste in Africa. She also has considerable media experience, having been interviewed by national and local TV, radio and newspapers on subjects as diverse as standards for wheelie bin storage, WEEE, energy from waste, recycling and careers in waste.
Among her other activities, she is a member of the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group Advisory Board, a member of the ICE Resource Panel, and an independent expert who is often asked to give advice to Development Control and other planning committees. She has advised two African governments (Kenya and Nigeria) on the development of policy relating to wastes management and delivered training on developing effective policy and regulation for several more (through the United Nations University).
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