Findings of exclusive report show how improved datasets could drive key decision-making and underpin stronger Government policies
RWM Ambassadors have published their exclusive report of waste data collection in the UK at an All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) event this week. The eagerly anticipated report makes ten recommendations on actions to be taken across the waste management sector in order to develop datasets which are comprehensive, accurate and timely. Achieving this will provide immeasurable insight and a solid evidence base on which to base key decision-making and develop strong government policies in the future.
The Waste Data in the UK report, which was commissioned and included £15k of funding by the RWM, is the first-ever comprehensive assessment of the current system of data collection in the country. It aims to map the numerous data systems in use throughout the waste management sector and helps to identify the significant gaps in information.
In addressing the challenges of data collection that face the industry, significant benefits would include the Government having an in-depth understanding of waste generation and waste management across the UK. Additionally, the waste management sector would have more confidence to invest in and deploy waste treatment infrastructure and waste management services.
The study, carried out and part sponsored by Ricardo Energy & Environment, included insights from a wide range of key stakeholders within the waste management sector such as central Government and devolved administrations, including Defra, BIS and the Welsh Government. Local authorities were approached as well as regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency, National Resources Wales and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Within the waste industry, there was representation from the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, key waste management businesses, lenders and investors. With inclusion of advisors such as Zero Waste Scotland, WRAP and waste consultants, this study provides a comprehensive look at waste data collection in real terms and the growing needs from a dynamically evolving sector for reliable data.
Recommended actions to improve existing data include:
• Investigate current data system to enhance data collection methods in order to potentially generate an estimate of waste arising.
• Support and encourage the publication of open source data by regulators and Government.
• Publish raw data site returns in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
• Review and improve the web-based data collection system, Waste Data Flow, to:
o ensure consistency of use across local authorities to enable accurate comparison and interpretation.
o cross reference data relating to re-use and waste prevention and provide guidance to improve performance.
o improve interface to ensure it is user-friendly.
o improve data output functionality to improve application.
• Engage with regulators to combine datasets into one single all-inclusive reporting portal.
• Expand work on common data standards to all waste datasets.
Recommended actions to collect and report new waste data include:
• Establish a working group to work alongside Defra to look at opportunities to share data.
• Engage with Defra’s exemptions review and lobby for introducing a requirement to provide data on waste managed.
• Consider the use of the Edoc system mandatory in order to collect reliable data on commercial and industrial (C&I), and construction and demolition (C&D) waste arising.
• Review options for reporting volume and type of waste reaching end of waste status to the regulators.
Barry Dennis, Chair of RWM said: “Availability and accuracy of timely data has been a constant talking point in improving the UK’s management of waste. It is difficult for those working in the industry to validate performance and costs without reliable data to underpin their efforts. This report illustrates the need to close those information gaps and develop a robust and streamlined dataset which can be openly accessed. The value of this information will prove immeasurable and will lead to clearer decision making and stronger Government policy.
“Not only will this improve information flow throughout the waste management sector, it will also provide an indication of the UK’s progress towards a circular economy.”