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Waste and Resources Management

The Waste and Resource Planning Group was formed in late 2021 with representation from the private, public and community sectors with an interest in waste, recycling and reuse.

The UK has committed to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and the UK recycling and waste management sector has an important role to play in helping to reach this target.  The effective and sustainable management of our regions waste and resources will also ensure that we; embrace a green economy, take swift action to reduce emissions and the use of resources and deliver a just transition that benefits all communities in Becoming England’s Greenest region.

The groups aim is to ensure waste is managed using the waste hierarchy and carbon is a key factor in decision making, when moving to a more circular economy.

The group decided to focus its attention on food waste and plastics, due to the impending food waste collections by all regional local authorities and the intrinsic link between food waste and plastic. 

Group membership includes:

Durham County Council
Fareshare North East
GAP Group
Gateshead Council and STWWMP
N&P Recycling
Newcastle City Council
Newcastle Hospital NHS Trust
Newcastle University
North Tyneside Council
Northumberland County Council
Northumbria University
Northumbrian Water
Teesside University
The Recycling Association
Zero Waste Scotland

Two sub groups were formed to take forward the recommendation from the Waste and Resources PG that the North East required a Gap Analysis to create a picture of the current waste streams, where they go and how they are processed and offer recommendations to reduce the waste and manage it with a smaller carbon footprint.

The Gap analysis working groups have been split in to commercial and municipal waste:

  • Commercial Waste Working Group – Looking at commercial waste streams and waste management.
  • Municipal Waste Working Group – Looking at municipal waste streams and waste management.

Suez produced on behalf of the Planning Group a gap analysis of waste produced in the North East and where it is currently reprocessed. This gave a good overview of the region’s waste flows and led the group to focus on 2 key waste streams, food waste and plastics.

Part of the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy states all local authorities across England will be expected to implement food waste collections. There are currently no North East local authorities currently collecting food waste from kerbside, so this offers a unique opportunity for the North East.

The Planning Group also ran a workshop for the VCSE sector working in food waste to discuss:

  • What was happening within the VCSE sector around food waste
  • How could the VCSE sector add value to regional activities and awareness raising across food waste
  • What issues the waste sector has across this area and how the VCSE sector can help

The workshop was hugely positive and there was enthusiasm in the room to keep the discussions going in the future.

The PG is focusing on food waste and plastic with a focus on:

  • The carbon impacts of food waste collections and treatment
  • Food waste reduction
  • Plastics waste reduction, in particular single use plastics
  • Awareness raising campaigns using economies of scale
  • Add value to the implementation of food waste collections in the region
  • Investigate the impacts of micro plastics in digestates
  • The role of the VCSE sector

The PG will look to carry out the following:

  • Influence local authorities to develop food waste collections and reprocessing with carbon as a key decision-making metric by providing data and working with the 11 LAs undertaking a gap analysis.
  • Ensure the community sector has a role to play in service delivery and awareness raising
  • Further investigate the carbon picture around food waste and treatment options
  • Awareness campaigns around food waste reduction working with WRAP
  • Set a target for the North East to have the lowest food waste production per head of population in the UK
  • Reduce the amount of single use plastic in the North East
  • Increase awareness of the Waste hierarchy
  • Investigate running a regional conference, in partnership with the North East Recycling Forum, on the topic of food waste that will present the data collected and enable and encourage a regional partnership approach to food waste reduction, communications, waste solutions, the climate emergency and the sector’s role in it. This will take place once further guidance has been issued to LAs on what is expected of them and any additional funding they will receive.