A State of the Nation report by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has found the “state” of waste infrastructure in the UK “needs attention”, after awarding it a grade C+ in a system of A to E. It also recommends that “one coherent body” oversee waste policy for England.
The report highlighted the progress made in waste networks since 2010, but suggests more needs to be done if we are to have “world class infrastructure” – in particular on the issue of resiliency given its impact on the economy and the major challenges ahead.
The C+ given to the state of waste infrastructure in the UK is an improvement on its C grade awarded in 2010. The grade C+, according to the ICE grading system, indicates that waste infrastructure in the UK “requires attention”.
The ICE recommends that objectives should be put in place for 2018, which include England having a clear waste policy, which is overseen by one coherent body, and that a circular economy should be in the process of being implemented throughout the UK.
A move from waste to resource management and a circular economy should be at the centre of government policy across the UK, it says, and an Office for Resource Management located in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills should be established to provide strategic leadership over resource management policy across government in England.
Central Government and the devolved administrations must now focus on creating a policy, regulatory and commercial environment that encourages private investment in infrastructure serving all of the UK’s waste streams. At the centre of this should be improved waste data in the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector, ICE says.
State of the Nation report chair and ICE vice president, Keith Clarke CBE, said: “We must all recognise that our infrastructure cannot be resilient to everything and it will become more difficult to run all services in all conditions – it will also not be cost effective.
“A move from waste to resource management and a circular economy should be at the centre of government policy across the UK”
“Funding will always be constrained as there are only two sources – tax and user charging – both ultimately falling on the consumer. The balance between the two is a choice for the Government of the day, but irrespective of where it comes from, both are constrained resources and must be used efficiently.
“Clearly there are some difficult decisions ahead regarding just how resilient the UK should be, and also what networks can and should operate 24/7 in what conditions. We can then plan more effectively – avoiding costly unplanned disruptions – and adapt. Management of the public’s expectations on availability during adverse conditions will need to form a key part of this process.
“The onus is on Government to make these choices for public sector infrastructure, and it must also build on its efforts to provide the right regulatory incentives to improve resilience within private sector infrastructure.” he added.
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Welcoming the publication of ICE’s report, CIWM deputy chief executive Chris Murphy said that the research adds weight to the consensus across the waste and research management sector about key future priorities.
“CIWM, along with other leading sector bodies and organisations, has been calling for stronger leadership and more integrated policy on waste and resource management to ensure that this sector can make its full contribution to the development of a greener and more circular economy.
“We are delighted that ICE has added its voice to this debate and also welcome the strong steer the report gives on the need for better data to underpin and stimulate investment in infrastructure. ICE’s support for the new electronic duty of care (edoc) to be mandatory also reflects CIWM’s views and highlights the importance of being able to track waste to improve strategic planning and forecasting in the future.”