Philip McGlade, senior technical engineer at CDEnviro, who manufacture landfill diversion equipment, discusses how legislation is set to further change how we view waste.
OPINION: It seems that everywhere you turn at the moment there’s a new piece of environmental regulation being announced or implemented.
We’ve had the extension of the 5p ‘plastic bag tax’, talk of a ‘latte levy’ and the possibility of a tax on single use plastic water bottles. Although these mainly target the consumer, there’s also the ban on manufacturing products containing microbeads and the launch of the government’s 25-year environment plan. Then there’s the EU plastics strategy. Whether you’re in favour of these measures or not, it’s fair to say legislation is largely responsible for shaping much of how we look after our world.
We’ll set aside whether any country in isolation can make a significant impact on issues such as ocean plastics. In any case, these ongoing legislative efforts to improve our environment will have a big impact on the UK’s businesses, especially those in the waste management industry.
Out of the loop
The big issues around plastic are that it is both overproduced and badly recovered. All too often it is thrown away as litter, or unnecessarily landfilled, rather than being contained in the circular economy loop and recycled or incinerated for energy. When it is littered, plastic can make its way into our drains and waterways and in to our oceans.
The solutions to this issue include reducing the amount of plastic we dispose of, discouraging anti-social littering, and improving the way we collect and retain resources. The raft of recent legislation is aimed at reducing disposal volumes, various campaigns have so far failed to eradicate the issue of littering and it is up to the waste management industry to take the lead in improving resource recovery.
More stringent legislation
Take road sweepings for example. At the moment they are rarely considered when it comes to new legislation, but unless collected and sorted effectively, the plastics and other valuable resources they contain will either end up in our landfills or our oceans.
Collecting and sorting this resource means local authorities and businesses can play their role in improving the environment. Acting now will allow waste management companies to future-proof themselves against any new laws, protect the environment and maximise resource use.
Author: Philip McGlade, CDEnviro