Government

Cross-sector engagement essential to waste sector resilience, CIWM Covid-19 report finds

The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has published a report looking into the resources and waste sector’s activity during the Covid-19 pandemic, reviewing its response and resilience to the crisis by using research collated between March and October this year.

The report, produced in conjunction with the University of Exeter, draws on feedback from stakeholders across the sector and provides a number of immediate and long-term goals, aimed at maintaining sector resilience.

One of the key findings emphasised the value of ‘early and collaborative’ cross-sector engagement with UK governments on contingency planning for local authority waste services.

It found that this was fundamental to building resilience within the sector, as this allowed for early warning of potential disruption and impacts on the sector, as well as shared understanding and learning to inform consumer-facing communications campaigns, such as those led by WRAP and Zero Waste Scotland.

The CIWM recommends that more work is done with the UK Government to develop and implement policy framework that ensures that essential resources, waste and recycling infrastructure is seen as strategically important to public health.

The report also anticipates service challenges over the Christmas period and advises that further research will need to be completed to identify long-term effects on different parts of the supply chain.

CIWM President Trevor Nicoll commented: “There is no doubt that 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for the resources and waste sector, as well as many others.”

“The entire supply chain has had to manage unprecedented levels of uncertainty, react to multiple and different pressures, and maintain services and supply chains that are critical to the protection of public health and the environment, as well as keeping valuable resources in use.”

The report forms part of a larger Covid-19 Waste Project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of UKRI’s Rapid Response to Covid-19. The Covid-19 Waste Project will aim to investigate how the waste management sector has responded to the pandemic across the UK, including analysis of operations, guidance, policy and communications.

The CIWM will lead the project with the University of Exeter and work in collaboration with the University of Nottingham, King’s College London and the Open University. A more detailed report is expected to be published in June 2021.