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Waste Management (July 2007)

Waste ManagementPublic Service Events is pleased to announce Waste Management 07 – Revising Strategies, Reducing Waste. Taking place at the Barbican, London, on 23rd October 2007, the event will be an important day of learning and networking for waste management professionals from across the local government sector.

Background:

In 2000, the Government established the UK's Waste Strategy, and since then there has been substantial progress made in terms of improving the UK's waste handling capacities and reducing the amount of waste generated. Of the main waste streams, both municipal and business wastes are growing at a rate slower than the GDP. Recycling and composting of household waste has doubled in recent years.

In launching ‘Securing the Future' the UK Government's Sustainable Development strategy, the importance of sustainable consumption and production was reinforced and clearly identified as a priority area:

‘Protection of human health and the Environment by producing less waste and by using it as a resource wherever possible. Through more sustainable waste management – reduction, re-use, recycling, composting and using waste as a source of energy – the Government aims to break the link between economic growth and the Environmental impact of waste.' (Objective for Waste Policy in the UK Government's Sustainable Development strategy 2005: Securing the Future).

Defra is currently undertaking a review of its national strategy for waste, Waste Strategy 2000, in light of progresses and new challenges. The objective of this review is to reflect on existing policies and delivery mechanisms including those arising from the Government's response to the recommendations made in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit's report on waste, ‘Waste Not, Want Not', and to consult on proposals for a revised waste strategy that will reduce the environmental and health impacts of waste in particular:

Key issues to be dealt with include a closer integration in policy between waste and sustainable consumption and production, the optimum framework of targets for recycling, composting, and energy recovery, and integrating the approach to municipal and non-municipal waste streams. It is proposed that this revised waste strategy will set a 20 year vision. The success and fulfilment of this ambition will only be achieved through effective communication and planning, and promotion of Best Practice.

To encourage that there has been recent discussion concerning joint waste authorities, on 22nd January 2007, Government announced that it would introduce new powers through the Local Government Bill to allow the creation of Joint Waste Authorities (JWAs). This measure aims to help those authorities that wish to put joint working on waste on a statutory footing. Groups of authorities will be able to voluntarily request creation of a JWA, in order to enable stronger partnership working on waste.

Joint working between local authorities is becoming increasingly important as a means of delivering quality services to residents and meeting the UK's Landfill Directive obligations at an affordable cost. With some waste disposal authorities too small to procure new waste facilities needed to divert waste from landfill on their own, it is becoming common for authorities to work with neighbours to procure and share new facilities. This kind of joint working is particularly important in two tier areas where responsibilities for waste collection and waste disposal are split between different authorities. As newer and more sustainable ways of managing waste emerge, it is increasingly important to integrate collection and disposal. The Waste Management Innovation Forum report suggests that efficiencies of around £150m nationally could be achieved through joint working in two tier areas.

The Government therefore proposes to create a new power for the Secretary of State to create Joint Waste Authorities where a group of one or more authorities requests this.

When the revisions to the Waste Strategy are outlined, there will be a need for clear guidance on the new vision from senior stakeholders involved in its publication. Collaboration across the whole of local government is essential to ensure that each potential efficiency is achieved through joint working projects and promotion of Best Practice, and partnerships between public and private sectors will also need to be enhanced and developed. It will be a complex task to deliver the changes needed and also improve the integration of the different strands of waste policy. This will require development of the institutional framework of roles and responsibilities to ensure that the right links and partnerships are formed. This event will provide a platform for those partnerships to be enhanced and created whilst also allowing a number of senior stakeholders to educate on future policy direction concerning the revised Waste Strategy.

Through debate and promotion of Best Practice examples, we will help to identify the appropriate structure, constitution and funding of these partnerships and the wider issues concerning the revised Waste Strategy, whilst speeding up the decision-making processes and giving more certainty to private sector partners.

If you are going to be involved in the delivery of new waste management services at the local level, then this conference is for you!