Colin Church says he has enjoyed his time at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) “immensely” as he steps down from his role as chief executive today.
Dr Church, who has served as chief executive for the waste management professional body for the past two years, leaves to join the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in London, as chief executive.
CIWM, Dr Church believes, still plays a “huge role” in bringing technical expertise to inform government policy for the waste sector. And, he says, having a professional body, such as CIWM, is a “fundamental” part in driving higher professional standards.
“If we’re going to address the issues of both managing resource and waste properly and tackling waste crime – and they’re very much two sides of the same coin – one of the elements has to be higher and higher professional standards, and how else do you drive that other than through a professional body?”
At the CIWM Dr Church has overseen a radical restructuring of the Institution which has been running at a financial loss over recent years.
However, over his time with the institution, he believes there has been a refocus on the importance of membership, and one of the areas CIWM has been working on is ‘inclusivity’.
“The thing that I’m most proud in terms of CIWM’s working is helping the team and trustees to refocus on the importance of membership,” he says. “That is something that runs through the organisation much more strongly now than it ever did or has done for the last few years.”
“CIWM had lost its way a bit when it came to its focus on members,” he explains. “I think people had kind of just taken our eye off the ball.”
But, Dr Church reveals that membership has increased this year “for the first time in ten years”.
And, he believes, the institution has become stronger on influencing government policy. “We’ve at least maintained and I would say grown our influence in the sector.
“We’ve become, I think, much better at understanding how to influence policy and how to work on policy matters on the various governments that we work with.”
And, in terms of the future of the sector, Dr Church believes that systematic change is needed to drive improvements, and he hopes to see the beginnings of this coming through in Defra’s waste strategy.
“Those countries that have taken a rather more planned approach, where it’s gone right, have had a much better outcome,” he says.
Dr Church expects to see a focus on PRN reform, recycling targets and how they are measured, as well as local authority food waste collections in the strategy.
And, on reform of the PRN system, he explains: “One of the arguments that I’ve been making is that however we set the system up it would be good if we could do it in a way that we could effectively allow that money to cross-subsidise local authorities in their collection of materials.”
This could allow funds fed to local authorities through the PRN system to be used to support separate food waste collections, he suggests. “I wouldn’t be surprised if in the end if it ends up saying something about encouraging [food waste collections] but I’m pretty confident that the one that Defra puts forward will be rather more ambitious than that.”
“The people who work for CIWM, the trustees who volunteer, the councillors who volunteer, and the members you get involved with, are all passionate about both the sector and CIWM so working with them has been really good.”
Reflecting on his time with CIWM, Dr Church says: “As always, with any job, the people make or break the job and the people who work for CIWM, the trustees who volunteer, the councillors who volunteer, and the members you get involved with, are all passionate about both the sector and CIWM so working with them has been really good.
“It’s never great to leave when you think things are undone, but these opportunities don’t come around very often.”
And, on his new appointed at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, he adds: “It’s a fascinating opportunity and one I’m really excited about.”
In terms of the future of CIWM, he concludes: “I will be watching with great interest as a member how things develop and I suspect as a fellow professional body we will probably have some stuff to do together.”
Source: letsrecycle.com General