Mike Webster named as top resource and waste influencer for 2018
Mike Webster, Chief Executive of WasteAid UK, has been announced as the winner of this year’s Resource Hot 100.
The poll, which is voted for by the public and lists the top 100 influencers in the waste and resources world, was once again an illustration of the plurality of talents in the industry and the different scales, both large and small, on which progress can be made in tackling the world’s waste problem.
The top 10 once again featured last year’s winner Mary Creagh MP for her continued work as Chair of Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), Shlomo Dowen of the UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) for his resolute stance against waste incineration, as well as Margaret Bates, Professor of Sustainable Waste Management at the University of Northampton.
Food waste was also represented in the top 10, with Tristram Stuart of Feedback and Lindsay Boswell of FareShare included for their work in building momentum behind surplus food redistribution. Michael Gove also makes an appearance, having appeared to have breathed new life into Defra since his appointment as Environment Secretary in June 2017.
With the focus this year very much on plastics, it is no surprise, however, to see David Attenborough in the top 10, coming in at number two, who has brought the issue of plastic waste into our living rooms with his Blue Planet II series, providing irrefutable evidence of the damage wrought by our current unsustainable economic model.
But in the end, it was Webster who pipped the venerable broadcaster to top spot for his tireless work as Chief Executive of WasteAid UK, a waste management charity working in the developing world to bring low-cost, teachable waste solutions to some of the most marginalised communities in the world to allow them to turn waste into a resource and become more resilient.
Since becoming Chief Executive of WasteAid UK in 2015, Webster, along with Head of Communications Zoe Lenkiewicz (who features at number 71 on the list), has overseen an inexorable rise for the charity, culminating in the release of the ‘Making Waste Work’ toolkit for community-led waste management, compiled in conjunction with CIWM and presented at a special CIWM reception in October 2017. Poor waste management in the developing world poses serious environmental and public health risks, with over two billion people in the world with no access to waste collections and some nine million people a year dying due to diseases linked to poor waste management and pollutants, all of which constitutes a serious inhibitor to developmental progress and the sustained improvement of livelihoods for the people affected in those countries.
Through the delivery of small-scale, replicable techniques to increase recycling and extend the life of resources in marginalised communities and work with upstream and coastal communities to stop the flow of plastic waste into the marine environment, Webster and WasteAid UK have carried out a great service in pushing the issue of waste management in the developing world to the forefront of systemic thinking regarding waste and resources, with the need more more international development aid for resource management included in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.
Commenting on winning the award, Webster said: "It's such a privilege to have been nominated for the Resource Hot 100, let alone win it! Adequate waste management is a global human right and we are really heartened by the support WasteAid is gaining. Three billion people still don't have a decent waste service with serious global consequences, as seen through the lens of marine plastic pollution.
"If you'd like to get involved, why not join us for the Walk for WasteAid on 23 June in London, where we'll be raising money to help bridge the global recycling gap."
The top 10 was announced at this year’s Kit Strange Memorial Lecture in London, which saw last year’s winner Mary Creagh MP deliver an address on the work of the Environmental Audit Committee and the battles still ahead to ensure the government treats resources with the care and attention it needs.
The full list will be published here soon and is also printed in the new issue of Resource magazine.