Thursday, 16 January 2014

Celebrating the people who are transforming the resource economy

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the Kit Strange Memorial Lecture at the Houses of Parliament.

It was the inaugural lecture delivered by Steve Read from the Somerset Waste Partnership, in honour of the late Kit Strange who, as director of the Resource Recovery Forum, pioneered the idea of waste as a resource.  I never had the chance to meet Kit, who died unexpectedly in 2011, but from the warmth, memories and respect demonstrated by Steve Read and many of his peers, it was clear that he'd had an incredible impact on the waste sector in many ways, which as householders detached from the policies, strategies and innovation, we naturally take for granted.

Over the last six years since I became curious about waste, I have found myself in a unique position as a blogger in seeing how this industry works, meeting influencers, policy makers, waste management companies, researchers, campaigners, designers and technological innovators that are directing the old dinosaur of a single stream landfill culture to one where our rubbish is treated as a valuable resource that is fed back into the economy.  Many attended the lecture yesterday and it was a great opportunity to catch up with just some of the people who are continuing to develop the resource economy through recycling, organics and redesign for reuse and repair.

To coincide with the lecture, Resource Magazine also announced its highly anticipated annual Hot 100 of influencers within the Resource sector.  Kit Strange was a former winner of his inspirational work.

It was great to see Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland heading up the this year's list.  I've heard Iain speak on a number of occasions about improvements to Scotland's recycling infrastructure and his vision for and practical steps towards Zero Waste. 

In a list that features such high calibre professionals and visionaries from across all sectors of the waste and resources industry, you can imagine my delight when the Top 10 was announced and I discovered I was featured at No. 7.

I'd like to thank everyone who voted. It feels an honour to be there and was a total surprise.  For me, it represents the relevance of capturing peer-to-peer enthusiasm, community based knowledge sharing and empowering people with new purpose and motivation to think differently about waste.   And I'm chuffed to share the platform with my colleague Rachelle Strauss of My Zero Waste and National Zero Waste Week, who was listed at No 11.

Congratulations too to everyone listed.  I can't list the full 100, but the Top 10 goes like this:

1: Ian Gulland, Director - Zero Waste Scotland
2: Emma Marsh, Head of Love Food Hate Waste - WRAP
3: David Palmer Jones, CEO, - SITA UK
4: Steve Lee, CEO - CIWM
5: Jonathan Straight, Chief Executive - Straight PLC
6: Janez Potočnik , European Environment Commissioner
7: Karen Cannard, Blogger - The Rubbish Diet
8: Dominic Hogg, Director - Eunomia
9: Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive - Resource Association
10:Liz Goodwin, CEO - WRAP

In his lecture, Steve Read indicated that consumers and citizens are often the missing stakeholders in the waste and resources sector.  And it is true, for both the engaged consumer and the detached.  Yet  we are a vital ingredient that's needed to help the industry maximise its efficiency.  How much we understand the impacts and how we choose to use our bins has a direct influence on the country's economy.  I recognise that much of this depends on the media and I continue to strive to drive media interest, develop audience engaging formats and push for greater aspirations among communities.

Hearing of the immense commitment, achievements and drive of people like Kit Strange and other professionals always increases my vigour to keep tickling people into increasing their support and contribution on the homefront. 

Huge thanks to everyone involved in organising yesterday's event. It was a real pleasure to be there.   And I did my bit for food waste too.  Thanks to the caterers and organisers for encouraging delegates to take away the leftovers in compostable containers.  A resource-focused event at its very best.


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