Lee Marshall was appointed LARAC’s chief executive in 2013 and will leave his current role on Wednesday, 1 December, to become director of policy and external affairs at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM).
During this tenure, he has overseen a rapid rise in the organisation’s influence and membership.
LARAC is now an even more important voice for local authorities at government level and has also enlarged its annual conference, two feats which Mr Marshall says have been a standout highlight of his term.
“I think particularly in the last two to three years, overseeing the conference’s move to Birmingham has been a highlight. Being able to move to a more purpose-built venue for an event that scale and seeing it grow has been great for me,” Mr Marshall explains.
He adds: “I also think the way we’ve engaged with our membership over the years has improved and got a lot stronger as well, and I’m confident this will continue to improve as well, as a membership organisation, this is vital to us”.
LARAC has played a leading role in representing local authorities in consultation responses, which at a time of wide-ranging and often complex consultations has proven vital for its members.
He says that working on the organisation’s relationships with government was one of the most important things he identified when he first became chief executive.
“When I first came in and I and the executive team sat down and did the first LARAC business plan, one of the key areas we highlighted was wanting to improve relationships with the with the government,” he recalls.
Mr Marshall continues: “With waste policy being devolved, it’s not just the main UK government either. But I think it’s clear we’ve definitely improved on this front, especially with Defra.
“We’re now able to deliver on working groups which help to advise and influence to help the government represent local authorities when drawing up waste policy in the UK.
“This focus will always be the case with LARAC. Part of its strength is the executives themselves, and the fact that it’s a local government waste organisation run by local government waste officers.
“So you know that with a working group for example, the people on it bring real life experience and can give examples of something that maybe happened to them before, or the points they’re putting forward are very well informed. I think that’s a real strength of the organisation”.
Looking forward, while a new permanent chief executive hasn’t been named yet, Lee Marshall’s move comes amid a flurry of movement at LARAC. John Coates has been appointed as the interim chief executive.
Cathy Cook is to become its 11th chair, taking over from Carole Taylor in January 2022. Ms Taylor will remain as North West Regional Representative on the executive.
Succeeding Ms Cook as vice chair will be James Ward of Hull city council, a unitary authority.
Despite a new look team, Mr Marshall said the focus will remain on how policy develops going forward.
“For LARAC, the key areas of focus will remain on legislation and how the consistency and the EPR for packaging policy areas are actually implemented. Especially on the consistency side, there’s going to be development of statutory guidance on the core set of materials and how the collections are going to function. That’s definitely going to be a key area for the new team going forward.
“I also think there’s the potential for other aspects of producer responsibility to come forward, such as reform of the WEEE EPR system, and I think they’ve talked about possibly looking at producer responsibility for the materials like textiles. So if they come forward, they’re going to be important to LARAC and its members”.
On a personal level, Mr Marshall said he’s looking forward at CIWM to working on ensuring the entire waste industry’s voice projected to the wider population in his new role, and encouraging more people to consider a career in waste management.
“It’s an exciting time and it gives me the opportunity to work for an organisation that looks at waste policy in its absolute, widest sense,” Mr Marshall explains.
“I’m going to be fortunate enough to get involved in areas that I haven’t been involved in yet and probably some that I don’t even know are out there. It’s just the opportunity to get involved in and influence that it’s going to be really exciting.
“It’s also really nice to be able to work for and contribute to an organisation you’re actually a member of yourselves, I’m a fellow of the CIWM, so to have that input on a day to day basis is actually quite exciting as well, and I feel actually privileged to be given this opportunity”.