Waste sector ‘overlooked’ at COP26, says industry

Representatives from the waste sector have complained that resources and waste have been left off the agenda at COP26.

Dr Adam Read, the president of the waste industry body the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), said the industry has been “overlooked and left with no seat at the table”.

“The fact resources and waste has to all intents and purposes been left off the agenda has me completely stumped,” he said.

Waste firm Suez, which described the situation as “frustrating”, is putting on fringe events to ensure resource discussions take place at the conference at some level.

Read noted that in 2018, waste sector activities resulted in almost 50 million tonnes of CO2e emissions being avoided across the economy – the equivalent to taking 10 million cars off UK roads.

“Creating a circular economy and a world beyond waste – where resource efficiency is maximised, the waste hierarchy adhered to, and our materials put back to use – could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 39%.

“The fact that COP26 hasn’t fully recognised the integral part the resources and waste sector has to play in helping to reach net zero targets, not just in the UK, but globally, is a critical oversight on their part,” added Read.

SUEZ said it had found that others in the sector “shared its frustration at the omission of waste and resources from the COP26 agenda”.

John Scanlon, chief executive officer for SUEZ, said: “The waste and resources sector is central to our net zero ambitions. Although frustrated by its omission from the COP26 agenda, we realised the best way to address this was to come together with partners to stimulate discussion around the core challenges facing not just our sector, but the entire value chain.”

Environmental think tank Green Alliance said resource consumption was “one topic conspicuously missing from the COP26 agenda”.

Senior policy advisor Susan Evans said: “We can’t continue to ignore the fact that mining, farming, processing and manufacturing cause half of global carbon emissions and most of the nature loss occurring around the world. As we successfully decarbonise our power systems, the relative importance of consumption and its impacts will go up. Being efficient with the resources we use and building a circular economy to eliminate unnecessary waste should be front and centre of every country’s climate policy.”