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Climate change will affect waste habits – 4 Nov 2010

Global factors like climate change, food shortage and recession will play as big a role in future waste management as the environmental behaviour of households, personal politics or support for green issues, waste management officers have said.

The Made Today, Gone Tomorrow study – commissioned by Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA) and Envirolink North West, and launched at the national LARAC conference in Liverpool this week – looks ahead to major factors that are likely to influence the amount of waste we produce in the future.

The report concludes: “Some of the immutable global forces and trends (from food shortages to climate change impacts) may well prove to be the real drivers that accelerate resource efficiency rather than it being generated through consensus, political support and heightened environmental awareness.”

The report cites the example of the 500% increase in sales of Argos’ cheapest sewing machine in 2009 as an example of how recession may be encouraging people to be more thrifty – rather than throw away people might choose to make or mend their own clothes. Also found is that people are growing more of their own food with a 60% increase in sales of vegetable seeds.

MWDA Chairperson Councillor Kevin Cluskey said: “We’ve made massive progress in recycling in recent years but there are many ways in which we can do better.

“The real message here is that we can all still make a difference by changing the way we do things before change is forced upon us.”

MWDA Director Carl Beer said: “We don’t have a crystal ball but we can’t plan ahead if we don’t at least look at how things might go in future years – that’s why research like this is so important.

“One of the clearest lessons for us is the need for waste managers to become much more creative and flexible in the way they help make the most of the limited resources we have left.”

The Made today, Gone Tomorrow study was set up to explore future trends in resource use and waste management and is based on discussions at a series of workshops involving experts working across environment related industries.

It adds that faster and more sophisticated collection of electronic waste is one of the most urgent challenges faced in Europe if the continent is to avoid the economic impact of dwindling supplies of raw materials.


Note to Editors

MWDA is a local government body with nine elected members from the five constituent councils in Merseyside. It organises and manages disposal of all waste collected by the five councils and operates 14 Household Waste Recycling Centres.

Envirolink Northwest is the energy and environmental technologies and services (ETS) sector development organisation in England’s Northwest. Energy and environmental technologies and services is one of the fastest growing business sectors in England’s Northwest. Our industrial heritage and pioneering spirit have combined to develop products and services with a truly global market.

Liverpool’s BT Conference Centre is this week hosting the conference of LARAC, the national Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, supported by MWDA.

Further information from Jon Flinn on 0151 709 0505