Collaboration: the resource sector and beyond

2nd December 2019 Posted by

Sarah Ottoway

The last month has certainly been busy when it comes to events in the resources and waste industry. Our advent calendars are ready and waiting to begin the countdown to Christmas, and it seems many have managed to squeeze their events and workshops in ahead of the festivities.

It’s been an opportune time to make the most of the knowledge in these many rooms and dig deep into various hot topics. It came as no surprise that every room I entered has been bustling with highly engaged and enthused delegates eager to know more. For me, it’s been a great way to build on my knowledge, especially within my role at SUEZ, focusing on sustainable development and social value. Each event has had its own agenda filled with various themes, but the reoccurring message underlying them all is that the country poised for change!

The pace of change within our industry is accelerating

It is clear to see that the profile of the resources and waste industry has changed.

The role in achieving a circular economy as well as a sustainable future is high on the public agenda, this is fueling the acceleration of innovation from public and private sectors alike. Recent CIWM events hosted speakers covering innovation, policy and legislation – including exciting steps forward in electric vehicles, carbon sequestration, reusable packaging, recycling technology and community based circular initiatives. Whilst not every solution is perfect, each signals evolution and acceleration of change, that hasn’t been seen for a long time.

Collaboration has never been so important

Many of the above examples demonstrate the importance of partnerships and collaboration between our industry and both the public and commercial sector. None of these innovations occurred in isolation. They required research, resources, support and drive from a variety of sources in order to become a reality, and this includes working beyond our industry boundaries.

Sustainable Fashion

At the recent ‘Sustainable, Ethics and the Fashion Industry’ event run by the Westminster Business Forum, this joint working approach was really brought into focus. The textiles industry is the fourth largest emitter of carbon globally, huge changes to its business models are needed. The circularity of the materials used and how we consume them is key to making sustainable improvements in this area. But, this will require collaboration across the supply chain, from growers, to producers and brands to resource management – and this is something we as an industry are ready for. A point emphasised by SUEZ’s external affairs director, Dr Adam Read as he spoke to an audience that was generally unfamiliar with the resource management sector, sharing how there is a long and growing list of examples where collaboration is driving real change. Examples of this include the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) and the UK Plastics Pact – both of which SUEZ is an active member of.

Make the most of your memberships

This year, I’ve made a point to attend more events to build on my knowledge and understanding of the wider industry. Membership with industry bodies give you much more than just the weekly members’ emails and magazines.  In 2019, I took this a step further and I am now a Chartered Resources and Waste Manager. This has helped me to see the important role networks such as CIWM have for our industry, especially during this period of huge change for everyone.

The events I’ve attended have brought together experts and thought-leaders covering a breadth of knowledge, and most importantly were relevant no matter whether you are an officer for a local authority or director of a nationwide company. I have been able to meet new people from across our sector and beyond, whilst also catching up with a few familiar faces.

My advice would certainly be to make the most of any membership organisations you are a part of, now is the time to make time for stepping outside the day-to-day and help yourself keep up with the changes soon to affect all of us.

It’s an exciting time for our industry, but as the saying goes forewarned is forearmed!

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