National stategy, local practice and the solid waste management gap? : a local authority management perspective on sustainable solid waste management in the UK

Read, Adam David (2001) National stategy, local practice and the solid waste management gap? : a local authority management perspective on sustainable solid waste management in the UK. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Solid waste management is a field of great diversity and dynamism throughout Europe. Over the last 30 years waste and its management has become a significant environmental risk and an area of growing political importance in the UK. This has been paralleled by developments in European policy and standards linking the environment with the economy and society as the three pillars of sustainability. This thesis examines some of the developments in solid waste management and practice in the UK, using a range of techniques (surveys, case studies, interviews etc.) to analyse changing policy strands and their implications at the local scale where waste management is so evident and important as a municipal service or utility. The development of sustainable waste management (that which does not impinge upon future generations) is now a primary policy field of the current Labour Government, and the amount of consultation, policy and guidance documents published over the last 4 years pays credence to this. This thesis will utilise this political and strategic backdrop to describe and evaluate changes in local service provision (waste bins, recycling collections, frequency and coverage etc.) and local strategies. It is suggested by this research that for all the developments in waste management policy and guidance at the national scale, little has filtered through to new activities at the local scale (through district, borough, unitary or county councils). This is attributed to lack of financial and staff resources to implement the necessary changes, lack of flexibility in terms of existing contractual arrangements and the inability of the authority to engage the public in the new services on offer. This thesis deals with the reasons for this general lack of action, and uses case studies to illuminate where positive contributions to local policy and practice have occurred. Through the series of related papers presented in this thesis, drawn together from the research programme over the last 5 years, an assessment of what has worked and why is provided in terms of sustainable solid waste management policy and subsequent practice. By learning from these examples more local development, in terms of public acceptability, economic affordability and environmental sustainability, is expected in the coming decade. Through an examination of the landfill tax credit scheme, waste minimisation project clubs and the Recycling Roadshow public education campaign a flavour of what can be achieved in terms of solid waste management is provided. These examples highlight how the most common barriers to successful policy implementation (the public, the finances, and the political will) can be overcome at the local scale. This research has made a significant contribution to the current debate in the UK on the path towards improved sustainability in waste management services (as noted by the number of articles that have been published and the author's input to international conferences) and has provided evidence for local councils in justifying decisions relating to their service provision and policy development (through the author's continuing consultancy record).

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