A new legal requirement for waste generators and handlers to implement the waste hierarchy, which requires precedence to be given to waste prevention, reuse and recycling, prior to consideration of recovery or disposal, came into force on 28 September 2011, following transposition into UK law of the 2008 revised Waste Framework Directive. Defra published guidelines on how to apply the hierarchy to hazardous wastes on 30 November 2011.
Professor David C Wilson has represented the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) on the Hazardous Waste Steering Group that has advised Defra on developing the guidelines, and also on the Technical Working Group that assisted the Environment Agency on drafting the guidelines. DCW chairs CIWM’s Special Interest Group on hazardous wastes.
Al Jazeera English News today ran a feature on the Zabbaleen, the informal waste recyclers in Cairo. After the video clip, Professor David C Wilson was interviewed live by videolink between the Doha and London studios, to discuss waste management in developing countries more generally. He highlighted the financial benefits that informal recyclers bring to a city, and argued for co-operative solutions – the city recognises the recyclers and works with them, to provide the recyclers with dignity, access to the waste and more hygienic working conditions,; and in turn benefits from more efficient recycling and thus less waste that the city needs to collect and dispose of.
The feature was part of a series on ‘Our Wasteful World’. The video clip highlights the very high recycling rates achieved in Cairo, but also the lack of recognition of the Zabbaleen by the authorities and the unhygienic and degrading working conditions. David Wilson pointed out that cities like Paris and London had similar, relatively efficient, largely informal closed-loop recycling systems in the 19th century; these were displaced by formal, municipal collection systems, introduced to protect public health by removing wastes from the cities; and more recently also by modern systems focusing on the environmental standards of waste disposal. Western countries have thus had to rebuild recycling almost from scratch over the last 10-20 years, at considerable cost to the public sector, whereas the original informal sector recycling systems still operate in most developing country cities. These systems both provide livelihoods to large numbers of the urban poor, whose priority is where the next meal will come from; and also recycle a sizeable % of municipal solid wastes, thus saving city governments $millions in avoided collection and disposal costs – in effect, the poor subsidising the rich.
The Irish Environmental Protection Agency has published its National Hazardous Waste Management Plan 2008-2012. The plan is based on a report prepared by a team led by RPS Consulting Engineers, and including Cowi, the Clean Technology Centre and Prof David C Wilson.
The new Plan can be downloaded here. The primary objectives are to prevent and minimise hazardous waste and to manage, in an environmentally sound manner, hazardous waste that cannot be prevented. The Proposed Plan makes 30 recommendations for the prevention and improved management of hazardous waste in Ireland.A consultation ducument was previously made available in November 2007.