Recycling minister pledges to ‘champion’ waste sector  

Recycling minister Jo Churchill has pledged to champion the waste sector to the government.

Jo Churchill MP was appointed to the Defra ministerial post in September

Addressing the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management’s (CIWM) Resourcing the Future conference yesterday (21 October), the new recycling minister described stepping into the role as an “honour” and expressed thanks at the sector’s work over the pandemic.

Mrs Churchill was appointed the new minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in September.

She explained: “As you know, it’s early days for me, but I really am looking forward to getting to know people. Actually building those relationships and understanding where we can work together to achieve some of these objectives fully and in a way that we can sensibly deliver for the consumer and for producers and for everybody is vital.

“Because ultimately we are all members of society as well as whatever role we might have during the day. So I need to be that champion for you to champion the importance of resources and waste and their management to society, to the economy. And very importantly, to our environment. I’m here to amplify your voice in the government now, the voice you will need to bring about the changes that we so desperately need to protect our planet.”

Repair

In a question and answer session at the end of her speech, Mrs Churchill also urged the need for better repair and reuse facilities, noting that she would advocate for this in her role.

“I think we need to be better at making sure that personal attachments can carry on. We need to be better at not thinking that everything always has to be replaced. That new isn’t necessarily better. That innovation might actually be how we upcycle something, how we reuse it, how we repair it.

She reasoned: “There used to be repair shops on every street, and that’s gone. It’s something that actually can be done on really small local level, as well as something that can be done on a more national level.”

Honoured

The better it is for any one of us, the better it is for all of us

– Jo Churchill, recycling minister

Mrs Churchill also took the opportunity to thank the sector for their consultation responses, which she reiterated will be out either the end of this year or early next year.

She added that she believes this a “really exciting” time to be involved in the sector, as it is “clear” it is “on the cusp” of a huge shift.

She continued: “If the past year, 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that we can rise to the challenge and we can do things differently.”

“Thank you for letting me come to speak to you today. The resources and waste sector supports every part of our economy and our communities. I am really honoured to be your minister. I look forward to working with you to bring about the changes we need for a circular economy, a fairer society, and to remember that we’re all consumers. So that the better it is for any one of us, the better it is for all of us.”

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