Graveson hails sector for resilience during pandemic

The chairman of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), Gavin Graveson, has praised the waste workforce for its “professionalism and resilience” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gavin Graveson, is chairman of the ESA

In the ESA’s Annual report, which details its progress over the past year, Mr Graveson’s foreword begins by thanking the sector for its hard work, which “enabled [the sector] to maintain frontline services”, and “contribute to the sectors enhanced national reputation”.

The report was published today (25 November) ahead of the ESA Annual Lunch tomorrow in London.

Mr Graveson also highlights a number of notable initiatives undertaken by the Association, such as its health and safety governance structure.

He added: “We have also been working closely with the Environment Agency to improve standards and address problems within the environmental permitting regime. Ultimately it is absolutely vital these are addressed to enable our sector to fully play its important role in supporting the Green Recovery.”

“Ultimately it is absolutely vital these are addressed to enable our sector to fully play its important role in supporting the Green Recovery.”

– Gavin Graveson, ESA chairman

Packaging tax

Looking forward, Mr Graveson noted that the plastic packaging tax “remains a key piece of the puzzle to supporting this investment, helping to drive demand and close the loop on material flows, and this is due to be introduced from April 2022”.

He said: “Similar to the Landfill Tax, long-term we need greater clarity on a tax escalator mechanism, (on both a value per tonne basis and percentage of recycled content) to “ensure the policy continues to drive investment and performance into the future”.


The report provides a review of progress against the organisation’s three strategic priorities – decarbonising the sector, improving operational standards and raising performance, particularly for recycling.

The report also reflects on some of the association’s key achievements over the past year, which include:

  • Publishing a sectoral Net-Zero carbon strategy prior to COP26
  •  Delivering a new research report quantifying the cost of waste crime across society
  • Implementing a comprehensive new health and safety work programme
  • Continued contribution to the development of Defra’s Resource & Waste Strategy
  • Launching a new national consumer awareness campaign to tackle battery-related fires

Jacob Hayler, executive director of the ESA, said: “It has been a busy period for the ESA and its members amid continued challenges presented by both COVID and the post-Brexit labour market, but the Annual Report provides an opportunity to reflect on some of our key achievements as an association over the past year, of which we can be very proud.

Jacob Hayler, executive director of the ESA

“We expect our work programme and progress against our strategic priorities to continue apace in 2022 when we will see Defra’s response to its RWS consultations, clarifying some of the detail and hopefully addressing some of the challenges and questions raised by the ESA and the wider industry this year”.

The association also reports a RIDDOR injury rate of 462 per 100,000 employees, which is an 18% reduction on the previous year “and three times lower than the injury rate for the waste industry as a whole as reported by HSE”.


On the financial front, Neil Grundon, treasurer of the ESA, reported that the year ending March 2021 saw a “robust financial performance” as it had generated a surplus of around 6% on income.

But, he warned that “continued industry consolidation could however provide a drag on future subscription income, which may require ESA to review its subscriptions – which have now been frozen for over a decade.”


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