What We Can Learn from Wales’ Waste Win
Last Thursday I went to the North East Recycling Forum Annual Conference – one of the few events I intend as a punter. This partly because I get to catch up with a lot of familiar faces and partly because the content is always better than all those identikit commercial green conferences in London.
To open, the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management gave an overview of the UK’s waste sector. It was very noticeable that Wales is shooting ahead of the other regions of the UK and has hit a 53% household waste recycling rate, compared to 43% in England.
“Why was this?” came a question from the floor. The answer given was that the Welsh Assembly has signed up to the One Planet principles at the very highest level and they develop strategies and make decisions through that prism. By contrast, English waste policy is managed by 5 different Whitehall department and is treated with different priority in each (It has to be said that Eric Pickles came in for a bit of a hammering from speakers and delegates alike.)
Politics aside, we can take three lessons from this which can be applied to any sustainability strategy:
- Have a clear vision;
- Secure proper buy-in at the highest level (not just lip service);
- Proactively pursue that vision with determination and drive.
In the meantime, well done Wales! (and despite the name, I’m not Welsh).