The UK faces a waste management time bomb and the deadline for a planned approach to the issue has arrived – that was the message at yesterday's (15 May) government seminar on waste management infrastructure.
“Waste management is a challenge with both political and social ramifications,” said seminar chairman Mark Spencer MP. “Where do we locate out waste management facilities? How we manage with is very important and it's a big problem.”
“It's big in money terms and it's big in structural terms,” added Clyde Loakes, chairman of the North London Waste Authority. “Waste is a success story for local authorities. The pace we've taken recycling forward has outstripped infrastructure and there's still more to do.”
Further plant and planning is needed – there is 10 million tonnes of additional capacity required, he explained, “as we move towards a zero waste economy”.
But the ‘nimby' response from residents near planned recycling and energy from waste plants is holding things back. “It's becoming a local political issue as well as a jobs and growth issue,” Loakes said, adding that the current waste management infrastructure has reached breaking point in terms of both capacity and functionality.
“We need to pull back from the hysteria generated by waste management – waste is a resource,” he said.