Dr Ellin began his address by marvelling at how strange it was to be back at a live event in the wake of the pandemic, especially following all the challenges the sector has faced in the last year.
Critical times ahead
Contemplating on the “critical times ahead” for the industry, he praised Defra for its continued support to waste services throughout the pandemic and urged that going forward must “simply must get it right” in delivering of all the waste and recycling proposals which have recently been consulted on.
Dr Ellin remarked: “We have just finished the rounds of consultations on Extended Producer Responsibility, Consistency of Collection Infrastructure and Deposit Return Systems. We all have slightly different ideas of how these crucial changes should be implemented and I’m not going to stand here today and try and gain political points of what I’d like to see happen. But I’m sure everyone here will agree with me that we simply have to get things right.”
Giving thought to how these key reforms should be implemented, he continued: “I’m not alone here, and it’s the only slight political point I will make, but why not take a little more time when we phase all these new initiatives in? Wouldn’t it be better to implement the strategy piece by piece and learn from the good and the bad as we go along? Is EPR for business waste as critical as municipal waste? Do we need an all in DRS from day one or should we give EPR a chance to take hold? If it takes five years instead of three but we get it right, is that a bad thing?”
“The passion you all bring to our industry is humbling”
Dr Ellin concluded his address by saying it “filled him with pride” to see how far the industry has come in the last five years.
He commented: “The quality of entries, the sheer hard work, the ingenuity and above all the passion you all bring to our industry is humbling and I truly believe that when the old stagers like myself are gone, our industry is in very capable hands.”
Also speaking at the event ahead of the announcing of the award winners, was Jarno Stet, secretary of the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO).
Mr Stet, who addressed the audience on behalf of the judges, expressed gratitude at the hard work undertaken by local authorities, collection crews and industry during the pandemic, and said how pleased he was to be back at a live in-person event.