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

DCW hands over the CIWM Presidency

Professor David C Wilson handed over the Presidency of CIWM, the UK and Irish professional body for resources and waste, to Enda Kiernan at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 13 November 2018. He highlighted plastics – both plastics entering the oceans and China’s ban on imports for recycling – as the dominant topic in his Presidential year. The public focus on marine plastics also helped dissemination of his Presidential report, the CIWM-Wasteaid Toolkit Making Waste Work; the website clocked 56,000 visits in its first year, with 7,000 downloads. DCW introduced his fellow Irishman, Enda Kiernan of Cork County Council as the next President. CIWM waited more than a century for its first Irish President; now we have had three in five years, and two in a row, although Enda is the first from the Republic of Ireland.

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Plastics – diabolic or fantastic?

In his October column for the CIWM Journal, Professor David C Wilson reflects on the dominant story of his CIWM Presidential year, how we respond to the crisis of plastics entering our oceans. Which plastic uses are diabolic and should be banned, and which do we really need? One of his starting points was a recent CIWM-sponsored report which proposed a five-fold use-based categorisation of plastics. The other was the July Klosters Forum, which gathered 60 stakeholders from around the World to brainstorm on how to stem the flow of plastics into the oceans.

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Tackling the global waste crisis through community waste management

Three billion people lack access to basic solid waste management services; addressing this problem would not only vastly improve their lives but also halve the weight of plastics entering the oceans. Professor David C Wilson and Mike Webster of Wasteaid made the case earlier this year, in an open access editorial in the ISWA journal Waste Management & Research, for community waste management as a ‘bottom up’ approach, to run in parallel to traditional ‘top-down’ approaches led by donors and governments. Community waste management requires building capacity at the local level. This is underpinned both by practical guidance, provided by the 2017 CIWM-Wasteaid Toolkit Making Waste Work; and by scientific understanding of the simple technologies in the toolkit. With our colleagues at Imperial College London, we have this month published a paper on optimising the technology for producing plastic bonded sand blocks from the low value LDPE film plastic, which is a major problem even in the least-developed countries.

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Hazardous Waste – Plus ça Change

CIWM President, and Chair of CIWM’s Hazardous Waste Special Interest Group (SIG), David C Wilson reflects in his August CIWM column on the challenges facing hazardous waste management in the UK and Ireland – past, present and future. His review with the SIG of current challenges suggests that not much has changed over the 44 years of his involvement with the hazardous waste sector. In particular, the UK continues to lack the ‘regulatory certainty’ which is necessary to secure the investment required in hazardous waste management infrastructure if such investment is left entirely to ‘the market’. And looking at the island of Ireland in particular, the uncertainties around Brexit do not help.

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Don’t waste our climate

In his July column, CIWM President David C Wilson makes the case for more investment in resource and waste management as an ‘entry point’ to achieve significant climate mitigation. The sector already has a track record in developed countries, with methane mitigation from landfill since the 1970s, and both methane mitigation and recycling making a major contribution to meeting Kyoto Convention greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets between 1990 and 2010. But that early success also means that the IPCC’s 2010 assessment is that the ‘waste’ sector only contributes 3-5% to current GHG emissions. DCW argues that this is a gross underestimate which fails to consider: the current emissions from uncontrolled burning; historical reductions; contributions across the economy from recycling; and waste prevention (particularly food waste). The results suggest that better resource and waste management has the potential for reducing GHG emissions across the World economy by 15, 20 or 25% or even more. Such numbers may be guesstimates, but whatever number we choose to use, the message is still the same. Further investment in this sector, in both developing and developed countries, is a major political priority in order to meet our climate targets.

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DW and MW

DCW awarded his CIWM Presidential Medal for 2018 to Mike Webster, the founder and CEO of the new charity Wasteaid, which is working directly with local communities to tackle the global waste crisis.

 

DCW with Irish Times

DCW handed over to Enda Kiernan at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 13th November 2018. The Gaelic Football team which Enda manages appeared in the lead photo story of the previous day’s Irish Times

 

DCW speech small_0453

Professor David C Wilson giving his inauguration speech as CIWM President 2017 at Church House Westminster in October 2017. His theme for the year was solid waste management as the forgotten utility service, underpinning modern society.

 

DCW commissioned WasteAid UK to prepare a practical toolkit for poor communities on how to make useful products from the low-value plastics and organics in their waste. In its first year, the website was visited 56,000 times, with 7,000 downloads of the toolkit.

 

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.