Alasdair Meldrum – Challenges of Waste Management – 11 June 2019

Member Alasdair Meldrum, a waste management consultant, used emotive slides to get his message across.  From his opening shot of a bin lorry disgorging tons of household waste to the breath-taking SAC residual waste to landfill cost. He explained the impact of mixed- refuse, bin contamination and that 81% of all bin content could and should have been recycled. Coupled with the Scottish landfill ban which means that from January 2021 no biodegradable materials can be sent to landfills in Scotland as a means of disposal, resulting in an estimated one-million-ton shortage of treatment capacity in Scotland. As no such landfill ban is currently planned for England this may simply mean waste will be moved across the border for disposal. Regarding a deposit return scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles and cans, Alasdair detailed how the system will operate and the storage challenges for small shops as well as supermarkets. In summary, he speculated on the future by asking his attentive audience rhetorically, “what are the likely actions needed for a sustainable waste management programme?”. The answers are not necessarily easy. From DRS which will come at a cost to the public, to the possibility of “bin police” there are any number of difficulties and perhaps there will be a lack of political will to implement unpopular strategies.  Alasdair’s final thought was that the most effective form of waste management is possibly for us all to produce less in the first place.

Harry Peters delivered the vote of thanks to Alasdair for his excellently presented and thought-provoking talk.