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The CIWEM have recently released their latest report, Less is more: waste prevention and resource optimisation across a lifecycle, which concentrates on why waste management should be everyone’s responsibility.


A press release published by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management’s (CIWEM) says that although the government’s ‘zero waste’ economy objective is very desirable it is unrealistic; the responsibility for waste needs to be moved up the supply chain and waste by design needs to come to a halt.

The latest report challenges the government to ensure that everyone takes responsibility for waste, not just the waste management sector.

The revised EU Waste Framework Directive requires all Member States to produce waste prevention programmes by the end of 2013. This report aims to assist in the production of England’s waste prevention programme and also raise greater awareness that it is not solely an issue for the waste management industry.

According to the report, in the next two decades, up to three billion people are expected to join the global middle class, coinciding with a 30% rise demand for oil, coal, iron ore and other natural resources in just half that time.

CIWEM advocates that an integrated, life-cycle approach would help to preserve natural capital, reduce externalities and increase efficiency.  Defra shouldn’t bear sole responsibility for this says CIWEM; high profile, cross-government actions from the departments of DECC, DCLG, BIS and the Treasury will be required to make the UK’s economy and society one of the most resource efficient in the world.

Advocating that this is not solely an issue for the waste management industry, the report encourages to Government to ask more from businesses, who currently have full authority to supply products with no environmental responsibility for their impact.  By looking at materials at the beginning of the production process, there is the potential to prevent waste by design.

“Leading businesses have shown that is it possible to undertake circular activities across the supply chain. The circular economy, like energy security and resource efficiency all makes clear business sense.  We now need to translate and mainstream this ambition throughout the public sector to SMEs and to the wider public.”

CIWEM’s Executive Director, Nick Reeves OBE, says:

“Brave, ambitious and innovative political decision is a must if we are to keep our resource priorities down.  We welcome the shadow waste and water minister’s recent proposal for an ‘Office for Resource Security’ and pledge to join up policy and drive action across Whitehall.  This support for the circular economy is a step in the right direction.  We need to stop measuring success by the balance sheet and get a proper fix on our place in a world that is running on empty.”  

The report suggests that by tackling waste prevention we can take a holistic approach to:

  • resource efficiency – material, labour and energy savings
  • resource security – protection against price volatility and imbalances in supply, protection against economic, social and geopolitical risk
  • reducing environmental externalities – greenhouse gas emissions, water use, land use, energy use, embodied carbon, toxicity and amenity from less need for virgin materials
  • improved national competitiveness – exporting knowledge on design and processes, anticipating scarcity driven price rises

If you would like to view the report in full or download it, click here.

Source: CIWEM