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Following last week's Waste Review announcement from DEFRA and continuing Govtoday's series of interviews on the environment, Dr Liz Goodwin, Chief Executive Officer at WRAP sat down with editor, Scott Buckler to discuss how important waste redution really is

1.    Liz, how do you plan to achieve the ambitious goals set out in your recent Business Plan for 2011-15, such as 2 million tonnes of waste prevented a year?

We have built these goals up from the bottom so we feel we can achieve all our goals. We have taken into account short-term goals and long-term which will both contribute to our ambitions The biggest contributor to achieving goals will be food waste prevention. Other key factors such as textile recycling and anaerobic digestion will also aid us to achieving what we believe are realistic targets by 2015.

2.    How do the goals of WRAP’s Business Plan combine with that of the Government’s recent waste Review?

We (WRAP) have worked closely with DEFRA, Welsh Government, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland to understand what it is they want to achieve. They are all aiming in the same direction by reducing waste but recovering energy. We have been in lengthy discussions with DEFRA to ensure we can enable them to meet their targets through improving resource efficiency.

3.    How do we create excitement around recycling and how can we encourage further participation?

We have made huge progress in terms of recycling, it is now second nature to many householders. Educating schoolchildren on recycling is very important as many can grow up with this ethos as part of their everyday actions. We also need to make it easier for people to recycle, whether this is at home, out and about or at work. Recycling and reducing waste needs to be more convenient so the public feel it is part of their lives and not a burden.

4.    Voluntary Agreements were a big area outlined in the Waste Review, How are WRAP developing agreements and relationships with organisations?

We are doing work with the hospitality sector to address what savings can be made from reducing food waste and recycling whilst analysing their supply chains. It is possible that a responsibility deal will be the most appropriate action for hospitality however this will be agreed as we progress with our discussions. We already have a Courtauld style commitment in place with the DIY sector. The Courtauld Commitment is a responsibility deal aimed at improving resource efficiency and reducing the carbon and wider environmental impact of the grocery retail sector.

5.    Following the Publication of the Low Carbon Construction Plan, how have the construction industry got to grips with reducing waste and cutting carbon?

We are making an enormous amount of progress when it comes to reducing waste from construction and I hope they meet the target of halving waste to landfill by 2012. What we need to do now is to focus on the design stage of construction so that they can utilise the recycled products to construct sustainable and energy efficient buildings whether commercial or domestic. Overall I feel the construction industry has really developed in terms of recycling and cutting waste.

6.    How does the UK compare with other European countries in terms of recycling and waste to landfill?

We beat ourselves up too much about the progress we make we have made a huge amount of progress, we are one of the fastest improving in Europe. Countries like Germany have started from a better place, they also have more incineration and landfill capacity. We need to improve on wood waste, we should not be sending wood to landfill. Improving on bio-degradable waste to landfill has to be the first step such areas as textiles needs to have a heavy focus going forward.

7.    How integral is it to support community based recycling initiatives?

WRAP have a small group of people who focus on community involvement. We need to find ways to plant those seeds within communities and give them mobilisation. We have experienced, in the last few years, that partners are essential and spreading the word of recycling is far easier in communities who care about where they live. WRAP is always asking what it is that businesses, organisations and communities want? We believe it is the right tools and resources to get started with and enable them to reduce waste, we do not see it as just handing over a cheque and sitting back.

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Written by Dr Liz Goodwin   
Thursday, 23 June 2011 14:09


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