Finally scientists are recognising the true value of our waste

By Neil Grundon, deputy chairman of Grundon Waste Management.

Neil Grundon is deputy chairman of Grundon Waste Management

Back in mid-December, I really thought Christmas had come early. In fact, I even wondered if it could be a (very) early April Fool’s joke.

What was it I hear you ask?

Neil Grundon, deputy chairman, Grundon Waste Management

It was the headline¬†on which said ‘Scientists press for waste to be used as UK resource’ (see story). You could have knocked me down with a feather.

For a long time now, I have been banging on about banning the export of our waste. In particular, I’ve always wanted to know why the Continent benefits from using our Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) as a resource to power their industries, when we could use it ourselves to help plug the energy resource gap.

As often happens, I imagined my thoughts were falling on deaf ears, but now I have renowned scientists to back me up.

The study ‘From Waste to Resource Productivity’, was published on 14th December by Defra and the Government Office for Science. The Government-funded report describes ‘waste’ as an enormous opportunity in terms of resources, and promotes the idea of more recycling or reuse of materials within the UK.

Sir Mark Walport, former chief of the Government Office for Science, who headed up the report, was quoted as saying: “A major theme of this report is that we need to stop thinking in terms of waste and focus instead on how we make the most of our resources. There are big opportunities for the UK to become a more prosperous and secure society by increasing our resource productivity. That will also mean breaking our reliance on imported products and jettisoning an approach to waste that focuses on its disposal or export.”

One of the suggestions is to look at ways in which manufacturers and product suppliers could pick up the tab for dealing with waste when the time comes; while the report also considers the economic viability of recycling some products, such as plastics, where less energy is often expended manufacturing them from new, rather than from recycled materials.

Quite what this will mean, we don’t really know, especially as the last thing we want is more plastic to dispose of, especially given the lack of Government investment in the waste industry.

As always, there is a catch.

The report says its findings are not Government policy, but we can only hope it is a start and the powers that will start to sit up and take notice of their learned friends.

As industry experts, we would love to be part of that discussion.

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