In front of over 120 guests at Glasgow City Chambers, the 2015/16 CIWM President Professor Jim Baird was inaugurated today (21 October) and used the occasion outline a number of themes for his presidential year.
These include the need for renewed efforts to tackle waste crime through collaborative working with industry and regulators, and the importance of promoting resource efficiency and Circular Economy (CE) learning – both in higher education here in the UK and through CIWM’s ability to promote communities of knowledge and good practice internationally.
Jim also re-emphasised CIWM’s commitment to the CE agenda, highlighting the need to maintain momentum and build on the work programme initiated and led by outgoing CIWM President John Quinn. As well as continuing to embed CE principles in all of CIWM activities, Jim’s focus will be on the policy measures that will be needed to drive progress on this agenda, including the future of Producer Responsibility. Calling it a “core building block”, Jim stressed the important role that producers and manufacturers can play in supporting collection and treatment and promised a report on the subject later this year.
CIWM President Professor Jim Baird – “CIWM has repeatedly expressed concern about the accuracy and value of comparative recycling statistics and data across Europe, and this report confirms our suspicions”
Waste data, and how we turn this into meaningful information for decision making, is another area in which the Jim expressed a particular interest. With targets and reporting set to come under the spotlight when the European Commission publishes its revised CE package towards the end of 2015, he took the opportunity to launch a report into the current framework for measuring recycling across Europe, which shows some significant inconsistencies.
Commissioned from Social, Environmental & Economics Solutions (SOENECS) Ltd and the University of Brighton, the ‘EU recycling rate harmonisation’2 report explores the impact of the different definitions and methodologies used by EU Member States to calculate their recycling rates. In addition to identifying differences in data capture and the interpretation of definitions across Member States, it also found that the four calculation methodologies set out by the European Commission yield different recycling rates with the same data sets, with an average variance of 8.6% between the highest and lowest.
Commenting separately on the findings, Jim said: “CIWM has repeatedly expressed concern about the accuracy and value of comparative recycling statistics and data across Europe, and this report confirms our suspicions. A measurement framework that can deliver this level of variation with the same set of data will simply not be up to the job as we move into the more ambitious territory of the Circular Economy.
“If the imminent CE package is to posit higher targets, then not only do we need a more consistent and robust calculation and reporting framework, but also a tightening up of the definitions upon which recycling performance calculations are made.”
Report author Dr David Greenfield added: “This research illustrates how difficult it is to compare recycling statistics across Europe with any degree of accuracy and highlights the opportunity to explore better ways of monitoring to support circular economy principles and reflect the latest advances in waste and resource management practices. Data capture also needs to be more sophisticated and materials rather than tonnage focused.”
Having trained as a civil engineer at Glasgow University, Jim’s first professional role in 1984 was as a fluid mechanics engineer at the British Hydromechanics Research Association. He then moved back into academia in 1994 as the Scottish and Newcastle Chair of the Environment and Society at Glasgow Caledonian University, and has been involved in waste and resource management issues for the last 15 years.
Currently Chair of Waste and Resource Management in the School of Engineering and the Built Environment at Glasgow Caledonian University, Jim continues to undertake and publish in the area of waste and resource management and, as module leader in waste management at postgraduate level, he also supports the development of graduates looking for a career in the sector.
Jim was elected as a CIWM General Councillor in 2003 and is a Fellow of the Institution. He has played an active role in CIWM’s Scottish Centre where he has served as both Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer. Jim has also acted as the Scottish representative on the CIWM Scientific & Technical Committee and sat on the CIWM Environmental Body and the Fellows Assessment Panel.