Susan Gow, Junior Consultant at Resource Futures, recaps the big topics, innovations and exciting discussions that took place during the annual CIWM New Members Network event on 10-11 May 2018 in Bristol.
This event was a great chance for us new CIWM members to hear about a whole range of hot topics in the waste industry including Behavioural Change and Effective Communications, Deposit Return Schemes and Plastics Taxation, Materials Quality and Commodity Markets and Global Waste Issues.
We also visited a nearby Energy from Waste plant, Sevenside Energy Recovery Centre (SERC) to see the impressive new £240 million waste management facility in action. The majority of the waste arrives by train from London and all processes are automated, with only a handful of workers needed on site at any time. The SERC can treat up to 400,000 tonnes per annum municipal waste and it exports around 37 megawatts, enough power for 70,000 homes.
Back at the event, we heard from speakers and experts in the field including WRAP, Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), Hubbub, Waste Aid, Young ISWA and different local authority officers and waste management consultancies.
One of the most engaging discussions was around materials streams featuring speakers from ReCOUP, the Confederation of Paper Industries, British Metals Recycling Association and SUEZ. Each speaker discussed a different material but with a common message - what's important is quality, quality, quality!
It was interesting to hear exactly how contamination impacts each material stream. For example, for every 1% increase in contamination in paper, £8.5 million is lost from the paper recycling industry. All speakers emphasised the importance of good source separated recycling and the need for change in the industry to improve quality – be that increased funding for communications campaigns, improvement to recycling collections, increased consistency in collections or changes in legislation. There was a definite feeling for the need to shake up the system to make necessary improvements in a challenging landscape.
There was also a real sense of innovative change in the communications workshop which was run by environmental charity Hubbub. Their many successful campaigns such as the square mile challenge, cigarette ballot boxes and FFS, are great examples of fun behavioural change campaigns based on principles applicable to the whole waste sector. They are built on insight and research, and are simple, consistent and actionable. We also discussed the importance of putting the reason why something is needed at the core of any campaign. Perhaps if there was more focus on transparency and engagement with the public on issues surrounding recycling quality and contamination, the concerns of the material recyclers could be presented more successfully to the public.
It was a great event, and I would recommend anyone starting out in the waste industry to attend the annual New Members Event. The speakers covered a diverse range of topics which gave a real insight into the important issues and exciting changes happening nationally and internationally in the industry right now.