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The consultations on resource and waste policy - May 2019

The consultations published last December by DEFRA and the Treasury have a deadline for submissions of May 12th and 13th.  They concern how England should manage its waste collections and treatment; how the UK should manage its packaging waste; and how the UK should tax plastics.  Within the scope of the consultations on packaging waste, the Government is consulting on two questions- how to make the producers pay for all the costs of managing the waste they create (known as Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR).  In the UK our EPR system only covers approximately 10% of the cost of managing the waste of items put on the market, leaving the other 90% of the costs falling on our Local Authorities.  This is very different from the ‘Green Dot’ system adopted across Europe that covers full costs. The other question being asked is whether and how to introduce a deposit-return scheme (DRS) for drink containers (bottles and cans) to reduce littering and increase recycling.

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What is sustainability?

Sustainability: 'the quality of causing little or no damage and therefore able to continue for a long time.'

When I was growing up, beyond the year 2000 was the realm of flying cars and imagination stretching technology. As a child, our future eclipsed the past as the greatest time to date. Yet as science progressed and developed a data-driven prediction of the future, we came to realise that our generation’s direction came at a cost. Slowly, that cost amplified on our radar, we noticed interconnections and knock-on effects. Animals that had been in existence for millions of years became extinct, rainforests were levelled and chlorine releasing CFCs literally digested our atmosphere. The next generations reality is very different. When looking forward to 2100 and beyond the very real, data derived prediction is that Earth may not be habitable at all.

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What changed my behaviour?

Landing with a bump into the Heathrow and the cold, damp funk of Brexit Britain, I cast my mind over the week’s events, to the people I have met and the brief glimpse I had into their lives. Whilst writing this, I was compelled to think back to 100 days prior, the same amount of time that past from when Habyarimana's plane was shot down to when the RPF declared victory. The 19th of October. It was my brother’s birthday. A lump appears in my throat, and my tear ducts fill. I have just spent three days in Rwanda with men and women who over the same 100-day period lost their brothers, their sisters, their mums, dads, aunties and cousins. People who will never share the joy of a birthday celebration with these loved ones again.

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Going circular with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)

Dan Botterill, CEO of Ditto Sustainability, explains how Artificial intelligence (AI) can help towards achieving a more circular economy.

The 4th Industrial revolution conjures imagery of all kinds of technology adaptations and evolutions; driverless cars, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and AI – the last of which underpins many applications in this area. The wide scale adoption of AI massively divides opinion. The inability of machine learning and probabilistic AI technologies to ‘self account’ or ‘explain’ how they have reached their conclusions is a very prominent concern for many, particularly those writing the law...

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The evolving role of the waste contractor

For those of us who’ve worked in or with the waste industry for a while, it certainly feels like times are changing. A public obsession with single use plastics, rallying cries for better food waste segregation and management, and the emergence of the new agenda in town: the circular economy.

So what does this mean for the oft maligned waste management contractor? How does its role need to adapt and evolve to respond to the progressively more outspoken ethical consumers?

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