The incoming CIWM president has claimed that there is an ongoing “global waste emergency” in countries across the world, where residents do not have access to adequate waste services.
Making his inaugural speech at a reception in London yesterday (17 October) Professor David C. Wilson, who is an independent waste and resource management consultant and visiting professor at Imperial College London, highlighted how critical resource and waste management is to public health and the environment on a global scale.
Professor Wilson takes over the post from professor Margaret Bates, who had held the presidency since 2016.
Speaking yesterday, he said: “The fact that roughly 40% of the world’s population lacks a basic utility service which we take for granted is, choosing my words carefully, both a disgrace and nothing less than a global waste management crisis or even a global waste emergency.”
However, Professor Wilson said he also sees this as an important opportunity for the international community.
He explained by increasing the proportion of existing international development finance being directed at solid waste management, from the current 0.3% to 3% up to 2030 – as recommended in the Global Waste Management Outlook – “not only can we extend waste collection to all and eliminate open dumping and burning of waste, but due to the cross-cutting nature of waste management, we can also make progress against no fewer than 12 out of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Professor Wilson’s comments coincide with the launch of the 2017/18 CIWM Presidential report ‘Making Waste Work: A Toolkit – Community Waste Management in Low and Middle Income Countries’.
The report provides practical guidance on low-cost ‘waste to wealth’ technologies which are said to involve minimal capital investment and help communities turn their waste into useful products to sell locally.
During his speech, Professor Wilson also highlighted three key focus points for CIWM over the next year on a national front.
He said: “Two major priorities for CIWM are to ensure that following Brexit we have continuity of the strong regulations on which the very existence of the waste and resources industry depends, and the continuing fight against waste crime,” he explained.
“An important part of that regulatory underpinning is health and safety and CIWM is also committed to reducing the unacceptable fatality rates in the industry.”
Professor Wilson went on to talk about the step change in approach to resources and waste that is happening, and he called for a “necessary parallel focus on the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – and on the shift from the linear model to a circular economy where resource efficiency and productivity is key”.
An integrated and inclusive approach will be needed, he said, as well as a balanced set of policy drivers.
Presenting highlights from the Making Waste Work toolkit, Mike Webster, chief executive of the charity WasteAid UK, which was commissioned by CIWM to prepare the project, added: “The essential waste management skills and recycling techniques we share in Making Waste Work can help a typical community to recycle up to 80% of its waste.
“We are confident that our model is effective and that simple waste management brings major improvements to people’s lives. We are now urgently seeking funders and partners to help us train more people to become recycling entrepreneurs.”