Professor David C. Wilson
Waste & Resources Management Consultant
Visiting Professor in Waste Management
Imperial College, London

China: Coming Full Circle

China’s recent import ban has thrown Western recycling systems into disarray. DCW has participated as CIWM President in three regional open meetings to address the ‘China recycling crisis’. His April column for the CIWM Journal has written up his presentation, providing a personal perspective on how he has seen China’s internal resource and waste management systems develop over the last 40 years. Arguably, its 1970s system could be viewed as an early example of a circular economy. The transition to ‘market -oriented’ operations led to economic growth being prioritised over environmental protection. But the current ‘National Sword’ campaign is just one symptom of a fundamental change, suggesting that, going forward, perhaps China really could lead the world in transitioning to a circular economy.

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Let’s Skip ‘The Tip’

Language matters. DCW’s March column for the CIWM Journal celebrates the dramatic improvements in waste and resource management that have been achieved since he first entered the sector in 1974. This is largely due to changes in public behaviour, which have enabled the UK, for example, to increase recycling rates over the last 20 years from just 6% to 46%. However, he questions how we can expect people’s mind set to change permanently when some local authorities, and both professionals and politicians, continue to refer to modern recycling facilities as ‘the rubbish tip’.

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Turning the Tide

DCW’s February column for the CIWM Journal focused on the topical subject of marine plastics. He reported back on ‘Oceans 21’, the latest Development Finance Forum organised by the German Development Bank KfW, where he led a workshop on marine litter. The conclusions were clear: the amount of plastics entering the oceans is at least an order of magnitude greater than estimates of the visible quantities in the oceans or on beaches – so the first priority is to ‘turn off the tap’. And the most effective way to do that is to extend municipal solid waste collection in developing countries to all people and to eliminate uncontrolled dumping and burning; our best judgement was that this could reduce the weight of plastics entering the oceans by 50-70%.

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Inspiring Reuse

DCW’s January column for the CIWM Journal showcases the five shortlisted entries for the Best Reuse Project at the CIWM Sustainability and Resource Awards 2017. As the judge for this category, DCW was inspired by the quality and sheer variety of the five very different reuse projects. He hopes that the projects will inspire others too, as we try to ensure that reuse, sitting near the top of the waste hierarchy, receives the same priority as has been given to recycling.

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A key utility service

In his first monthly column in the CIWM Journal as CIWM President, Professor David C. Wilson has revisited his Presidential address. His overall theme for his year is solid waste management as a key utility service, underpinning modern society. Within that three strands are to avoid complacency when it comes to protecting public health and the environment; the continuing move from the linear ‘make – use – dispose’ model to a more circular economy; and the global waste crisis, with more than 3 billion people lacking access to a basic solid waste management service.

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CIWM 2014-15 James Jackson Medal

DCW with co-authors Costas Velis, Andy Whiteman, Darragh Masterson and Recaredo Vilches, receiving the James Jackson Medal and their certificates from CIWM Chief Executive Steve Lee (centre), at the annual CIWM Sustainability and Resource Awards at the London Marriott on 5 November 2015.

 

ISWA Publication Award 2015

DCW with co-authors Ljiljana Rodic, Andy Whiteman, Costas Velis, Barbara Oelz, Joachim Stretz and Anne Scheinberg, receiving the Award from ISWA Scientific and Technical Committee Chair Antonis Mavropoulos (left), at the ISWA 2015 World Congress in Antwerp on Tuesday 08 September.

 

WM&R Best Paper award 2015

DCW and his co-authors Ljiljana Rodic, Costas Velis and Anne Scheinberg receiving the inaugural Best Paper award at the ISWA 2015 World Congress from Professor Agamuthu, editor of the peer-reviewed journal Waste Management & Research (WM&R) and the upcycling sculptor Evy Puelinckx.

 

The ISWA 2015 Awards

DCW has published two papers with Costas Velis to disseminate the UNEP/ ISWA Global Waste Management Outlook (GWMO), published in September 2015, for which DCW was Editor-in-Chief and lead author.