Professor David C Wilson has been involved with hazardous waste policy issues throughout his 35 year career. He currently represents CIWM on the Defra Hazardous Waste Steering group, as well as on the Hazardous Waste Forum (HWF), for whom he wrote their first Action Plan. He previously chaired the Northern Ireland HWF from 2003-2007.
From 1977, DCW ran the Department of the Environment’s hazardous Waste Research Unit. In 1981, he was rapporteur for the UNEP/ WHO working group which developed the first international guidance on hazardous waste management (HWM). In 1989, he edited the World Bank’s Technical Manual on The Safe Disposal of Hazardous Wastes: the Special Problems of Developing Countries. Since 1984, he has represented CIWM on the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA)’s Working Group on Hazardous Wastes (WGHW). With the WGHW, he compiled two definitive international comparisons, in 1987 and 1999, analysing how different countries have implemented their HWM systems; and with WGHW, UNEP and the Basel Convention, he developed the multiple award winning Training Resource Pack for Hazardous Wastes in Developing Countries (2002).
A key conclusion of DCW’s policy analysis is that all countries have developed their HWM systems in a series of steps. Over the last 25 years, much of his international project work in hazardous wastes has involved helping countries take the next appropriate steps in developing their management systems. Examples include developing a national strategy in Vietnam and putting in place the first national legislation; and developing and demonstrating a regulatory control system in Sverdlovsk Oblast in Russia. Other projects have been in, e.g., Hungary, Ukraine, Bahrain, India, Sri Lanka, China, Philippines and Chile. More recently, DCW was an advisor to the team revising Ireland’s National Hazardous Waste Management Plan, which was published in September 2008.The UK was one of the early pioneers of hazardous waste management in the 1970s, both in terms of enacting legislation and developing treatment facilities. But while other countries gradually built up their capacity for relatively high-tech treatment, the UK chose to rely on the science of controlled co-disposal with municipal solid wastes, a practice banned under the EU Landfill Directive from 16 July 2004. The demise of co-disposal has led to the UK facing what DCW describes as a classic ‘implementation conundrum’; while the government waits for industry to invest in treatment facilities, the industry waits for the government to give ‘regulatory certainty’ before making investment decisions. Defra established the Hazardous Waste Forum (HWF) in 2003 to oversee this transition: DCW represents CIWM on the HWF, and wrote their Action Plan published in December 2003. The saga is still continuing: DCW represents CIWM on Defra’s Hazardous Waste Steering Group established in 2008, and which is contributing to development of a new strategy for hazardous waste treatment. DCW also chairs CIWM’s Special Interest Group on Hazardous Wastes.
The Chemical Waste Treatment Centre (CWTC) in Hong Kong, the first comprehensive hazardous waste treatment plant to be developed outside of the OECD. Prof David C Wilson was involved in developing this facility from 1987 to 1994, leading the team responsible for the institutional arrangements. Photo © Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department.