This conference examined the outlook for waste management and next steps in moving towards a circular economy in Wales.
It was an opportunity for stakeholders and policymakers to assess the Welsh Government’s Beyond Recycling strategy, including priorities for meeting key targets and what more is needed moving forward.
Delegates discussed the impact of the new Stronger, Fairer, Greener Wales innovation strategy, including implications for the waste management sector in relation to more waste-avoiding business models, with emphasis placed on reuse and repair. We also expected discussion on issues for the implementation of the Environmental Protection (Single-Use Plastics Products) (Wales) Act, which came into effect in October 2023.
Attendees considered opportunities and challenges facing Welsh business, with the forthcoming Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for packaging being introduced from 2025, including options for utilising digital technology to facilitate resource efficiency and reuse of materials.
Further sessions looked at investment in research and innovation, and their role in providing resource and waste management solutions.
Delegates also discussed priorities for legacy industries embarking on the transition to net zero waste, and what is needed to enable a just transition to more circular business models.
We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with: Dr Andy Rees, Head of Waste Strategy, Welsh Government; Dr Paul Davidson, Challenge Director for Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging, Innovate UK; Keith James, Head of Policy and Insights, WRAP; Dr Gary Walpole, Director of the Circular Economy Innovation Community, Cardiff Metropolitan University; Eoin Bailey, UK Innovation Manager, Celsa Steel; and Mark Loveridge, Director, Precious Metals Recovery, The Royal Mint.
Overall, areas for discussion included:
- progress towards zero waste in Wales: further implementation of the Beyond Recycling strategy - best practice in meeting waste reduction targets - assessing ways Wales can go further with recycling efforts
- developing a circular economy: options for enabling Welsh industries to transition towards greener, circular models - innovative approaches to ease the transition - expanding reuse, recycle and lease practices
- investment: funding priorities for innovation and research into waste and resource management solutions - examining priority sectors and areas for targeting investment
- encouraging behavioural change: enabling community action and industry engagement in achieving zero waste - assessing the recent introduction of non-domestic premises recycling regulations
- impact on businesses: assessing proposals to introduce new regulations, requiring all workplaces to separate recyclable materials
- waste as a resource: unlocking potential economic and environmental benefits of effective e-waste management - improving resource efficiency and effective waste management - looking at exportation
- environmental impact: priorities for reducing the impact of waste - reducing the prevalence of single-use products - infrastructure needs
The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from the CCC; DBT; Defra; DESNZ; FSA; Isle of Man Government; NIC; UKIB; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.