Waste prevention and reuse on top of industry’s priority list

25/10/2012 - According to an extensive member survey undertaken by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) presented in this year’s CIWM report, waste prevention and reuse strategies are considered to be the number one issue to address in order to achieve successful resource-led waste management solutions over the next five years. With the European directives and the waste hierarchy in mind, these results do not come unexpectedly.

Landfill taxes and producer responsibility regimes were found to be the second biggest influencer, followed by statutory recycling and waste reduction targets, landfill bans, the zero waste agenda, and campaign around behaviourial change.

Even though the potential savings of better waste prevention practices are getting well-known, achieving the correct behavioural change is critical. CIWM explains this will be a real challenge as the concepts of prevention and reuse are less tangible and more difficult to grasp and engage with, compared to recycling or composting activities.

In a business-led environment, the lack of reliable, comparable measures to quantify impacts or benefits of waste prevention impedes appropriate budget allocation to prevention programmes. Therefore CIWM is now calling for consistent metrics to be adopted across both the UK and Ireland to measure the performance and environmental benefits of waste prevention in a meaningful way. Defra seems to acknowledge this need and is leading a consortium to develop a practical tool to help local authority decision-makers quantify the benefits in terms of tonnage, costs and carbon impacts.

Developing a consistent and comprehensive approach is also the main goal of the Pre-waste project, which has selected and analysed several best practices regarding waste prevention. An online monitoring tool to assess waste prevention policies is being set up as well. Interested? The Pre-waste final conference in Brussels on 7 November will exhibit the results of the project, and highlight efficient waste prevention tools and strategies for cities and regions. We hope to see you there!