Newcastle Waste Commission report sets out path to 65 per cent recycling by 2030
Newcastle could make the leap to a 65 per cent recycling rate by 2030 and reduce waste by up to 10 per cent by 2025, according to a new report from the Newcastle Waste Commission, which outlines a set of recommendations including a voluntary ban on single-use plastics in the city.
The Commission was set up a little under a year ago by Newcastle City Council to investigate ‘radical’ solutions to managing the city’s waste and met six times in London and Newcastle to gather evidence from a range of organisations and businesses in order to compile its report.
Released today (1 February), the 50-page publication entitled ‘No Time To Waste’ and put together by the independent Commission, made up of seven waste industry professionals, seeks to chart a course towards making Newcastle a world leader in waste reduction, with community action at its heart.
Heidi Mottram, Chair of the Commission and Chief Executive of Northumbrian Water Group, stated that the report is “written with as little jargon as possible in the hope partners and communities will read it, come together, and decide how they want to make Newcastle a world leader in dealing with waste”.
Newcastle is a good example of the growth of cities and the necessity to address growing amounts of waste. The city of 300,000 (with 900,000 in the Tyneside area), is expected to grow by at least 30,000 by 2030. This growth, the report notes, has the potential to generate more waste, and the city already collects 142,000 tonnes of waste every year, a quantity that is becoming increasingly costly to process.
Presenting the report’s findings, Mottram stressed the importance of waste reduction, saying: “Waste, and how we deal with it, is one of the biggest challenges facing our generation. Thanks to TV programmes like Blue Planet II the threat that it poses have struck a chord with millions of people and there now appears to be a growing acceptance that we can’t just carry on doing the same old things.
“We all have a responsibility to wise-up to waste and do our bit. This report is full of ideas, big and small, short term and long term. I want as many people as possible to read it. If everyone pledges to do at least one thing then together we can make a big difference. Ultimately, the people of Newcastle hold the key to success. By reducing waste, recycling more and reusing everyday items, the city can make a step change.”
The report makes seven recommendations for the city to pursue:
- Set an ambitious target to be a zero-food waste city
- Make waste minimisation a priority with targets for waste reduction
- Adopt new approaches to significantly increase recycling
- Everyone should retain maximum value from waste
- Local homes and businesses should benefit where waste is converted to energy
- Drive behaviour change with communities
- Build zero-waste principles into homes, buildings and spaces
The Commission also agreed that the city should consider changing from weight-based waste reduction and recycling targets to carbon-based targets in order to ensure more environmentally sustainable outcomes.
To meet these waste reduction goals, the report suggests a number of measures, based in both policy and community action, including introducing voluntary bans on single-use plastics and drinking straws and establishing a reuse mall where unwanted items can be bought, sold and swapped and setting up a city-wide partnership for groups to share ideas and good practice.
The report points to a number of actions that could be taken to advance these measures, including creating a Newcastle Food Movement to work with businesses and communities to reduce food waste, implementing separate food waste collections, establishing a Resource Newcastle Partnership to grow the circular economy, and developing a strong marketing and communications campaign on waste.
Mottram wrote in the report: ‘Anyone looking for a silver bullet will be disappointed. There is no single big idea to solve all of the waste challenges. And, this is not a report primarily about bin collections. Waste is too varied and complex for that. One of the things we have learned is that new, evolving technologies mean we have to use a range of methods and remain flexible and open minded to ways of reducing and dealing with waste.’
If the measures in the report are implemented it’s estimated waste could be reduced by 10 per cent by 2025, and recycling rates improved from 42 per cent to 65 per cent by 2030. Up to 1,000 jobs and millions of pounds for the local economy could also be generated.
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, who received the report on behalf of the city, said: “Newcastle is a hugely ambitious city and we want to be on the world stage when it comes to dealing with waste. The report is extremely thorough. Many different ways of dealing with waste have been considered and, for that reason, it will be of interest to every town and city in the country.
“We all generate waste, whether it be discarded food, old clothing, cardboard packaging or just general household waste. The big challenge now is how we can come together to work in partnership and turn this report into a call for action.”
The Newcastle Waste Commission’s report ‘No Time To Waste’ is available in full on the website ‘Wise on waste’.