Waste industry's 'tunnel vision' hindering profitability
Local authorities and waste management firms need to step out of their "sectoral silos" and start forging new alliances if they are to remain prosperous.
That is the warning from a leading industry player who argues that waste management requires a more joined up approach if the sector is to unlock inward investment for much needed infrastructure.
Covanta Energy's managing director Malcolm Chilton has called on local authorities to work more closely with waste producers, who are becoming increasingly influential when it comes to feedstock and supply.
He also wants to see new policy drivers to encourage more sustainable commercial waste behaviours while simultaneously supporting councils in their drive towards zero waste to landfill goals.
"UK local authorities and commercial organisations have made all the easy wins when it comes to diverting waste from landfill," he said.
"Taking the next step is going to be a bigger challenge in terms of technology deployment, investment and planning. It's clear that in the current economic climate individual organisations will struggle to jump these hurdles alone."
Chilton claims that if local authorities put in place waste management strategies that have sufficient capacity to accommodate local or even regional commercial, industrial and construction waste arisings, the economic benefits will be "considerable".
The most recent survey of C&I waste in England found arisings of over 44m tonnes a year. While some 50% is recycled, only 2% of the total goes to energy-from-waste. That means well over 20 million tonnes still goes to landfill.
Chilton argues that there is still significant energy potential in residual construction and demolition waste, and that capturing the energy value of this will be critical to the sector's ability to contribute to the renewable solution required to maintain the UK's energy equilibrium.