Community interests

Matthew Thomson is leaving the community waste sector after five years. Here, he talks to Charles Newman about some of the challenges he faced in this time and the road ahead

“CRED had ironically had no sense of building capacity or sustainability. It was hand to mouth. The DNA of the programme was not to engender enterprise and self-reliance.” Since then, the community waste sector has not attracted the same level of funding and, looking back, the difficulties it’s faced have been varied and numerous. It would be easy to highlight the diminishing support of government, but throughout the interview Thomson is particularly interested in the sector’s own internal difficulties and failures – his part in these included.

“We haven’t demonstrated our relevance and the need for us in the heart of our communities. That’s because we haven’t collaborated. As pedants we might eschew the recycling label if we’re into reuse, or the reuse label if we’re into compost, but actually for the public imagination all that activity is ‘closing the loop’. We have split at our peril.