Newcastle Waste Commission seeks ‘radical’ solutions

Newcastle City Council is looking for ‘radical’ solutions to the city’s waste management situation after appointing a team of industry experts to review all aspects of the waste process.

Newcastle Waste Commission seeks ‘radical’ solutions
The Newcastle Waste Commission, according to the council, will see ‘top experts’ ‘take a radical look at how the city deals with its mountain of waste’.  The commission contains representatives from, among others, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the waste management industry (FCC Environment), the Environment Agency, the packaging industry (Nestlé UK and Ireland) and the media (The Times), as the city looks to put the city ‘on the international map’ with innovative thinking.

At present, Newcastle’s 235,000 residents produce around 142,000 tonnes of waste a year, enough to fill Newcastle United’s St James’ Park 52,000-seat stadium to the brim every three years.

Last year, the city, which operates an in-house collections service, reported a recycling rate of 39 per cent, the lowest since 2008, when it reached 33 per cent. Cities and urban local authorities across England have struggled to maintain, let alone improve, their recycling rates in the last few years as budgetary constraints reach new lows.

The commission intends to carry out a root-and-branch review on the entire chain of waste in the city, from the packaging sold to consumers to collection to disposal.

The idea for the commission was conceived by Newcastle Councillor Nick Kemp, who is responsible for the council’s waste strategy. Commenting on the group, Kemp said: “Newcastle has decided that it can’t go on producing inordinate amounts of waste and just dumping it in the ground. We want a new approach, something that challenges each and every one of us to change our behaviour for the world today and the world tomorrow. We owe this to future generations.

“I want Newcastle to become a model of excellence in how it deals with waste, a city that is emulated all around the world in tackling this global problem.”

Panel of experts

The full list of commission members includes:

  • Heidi Mottram (Chair) Chief Executive of Northumbrian Water Group
  • Dr Colin Church, Chief Executive of Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM)
  • Ben Webster, Environment Editor, The Times
  • Marie Fallon, Director of Regulated Industry, Environment Agency
  • Peter Maddox, Director of Government Programmes for WRAP
  • Paul Taylor, UK Chief Executive of waste recycling group, FCC Environment
  • Andrew Griffiths, Head of Environmental Sustainability, Nestlé UK and Ireland

The group will meet over the next six months and hear evidence from a range of individuals and organisations before producing a report, expected before the end of the year, containing a series of recommendations for improving policy and citywide action on waste.

Newcastle Waste Commission seeks ‘radical’ solutions
Businesses, groups and individuals will be able to apply to address the panel, giving their opinions and experiences starting from the meeting on 21 April. Each meeting will focus on a particular theme like waste minimisation, reuse, recycling, emerging technologies and the role of communities.

Findings from the work of the commission, the council hopes, will also help other similar-sized cities and the government to address issues of waste disposal while operating with continually falling budgets.

A ‘long, hard look at waste’

Heidi Mottram, Chief Executive of Northumbrian Water Group, will chair the Newcastle Waste Commission. She commented: “How we deal with the sheer amount of waste society produces is one of the most important environmental issues of our time. It’s critically important for all of us that we take a long hard look at waste to see what we can do to reduce it and see what potential benefits we can create. 

“We must be innovative in our approach and look for similar ways to be positive about all waste.

“I am delighted to have been asked to chair the Newcastle Waste Commission, and look forward to working with our panel of experts and listening to the views and experiences of a wide range of organisations and individuals over the coming months to see what we can do differently.”  

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