Headlines: August 21st, 2008

The Local Government Association has responded to the House of Lords Science Committee report on waste management, by calling on businesses to match the efforts local people have made in recent years to reduce the country’s reliance on landfill. Reducing packaging is vital to avoid paying more landfill tax and EU fines. “The days of the cling film coconut must come to an end”.

The report focuses on waste reduction. Designers have the potential to reduce waste through better design, but there is a lack of knowledge on designing for sustainability. Some companies have shown that significant reductions in waste are practical and profitable, but many businesses fail to recognise the costs of their waste and do not understand how to improve production processes.

There is a need for industry itself to take responsibility in tackling waste. Big businesses can take the lead by demonstrating the profitability of waste reduction measures and demanding good practice from their suppliers. In order to promote waste reduction simple methodologies should be developed to allow businesses to analyse the lifetime implications of the materials, products or services they produce.

There is a call for greater collaboration between councils, waste management companies and producers so that manufacturers factored the costs of waste into their production calculations and understood the end-of-life implications of their products. Some companies had introduced new types of packaging thinking that they were recyclable, without realising that the materials were extremely difficult for councils to collect and recycle.

The report also highlights weaknesses in re-cycling arrangements. Some councils are segregating glass but then the companies who operate the collection systems are then mixing them. The reverse also applies with councils aggregating materials so they can meet their targets and their primary objective which is to avoid landfill at all costs.