WRAP (The Waste & Resources Action Programme)

WRAP`s Business Plan 2008-2011: A lighter carbon footprint

We have set about the task of improving markets for recycled materials and products – our original core remit – with great gusto and some real success, as we have reported. And we have embraced rapid organisational expansion as we  tackled new responsibilities for household waste reduction, communications and local authority support that we were tasked with following the Cabinet Office Waste not: want not report in 2002. Although great progress has been made, the tasks are not by any means complete. Indeed, my colleagues David Dougherty and Ray Georgeson, who advised DETR (now Defra) on the creation of WRAP in 1999/2000, were often asked about the possible lifespan of WRAP. They maintained that, based on the experience of similar projects in North America, the challenge of developing the recycling market was likely to be a minimum ten-year task in the UK.

This took into account a common industry consensus that the UK is around 15 years behind North America in the development of recycling. As the proposals in this Business Plan illustrate, this has indeed proved to be the case. However, by the time WRAP celebrates its 10th anniversary during the course of this Business Plan period, we will be squarely facing the next challenges of higher recycling targets – although we will do this from the foundation of the progress made in recent years.

And as time moves on, so does our understanding of the new challenges we all face on resource efficiency, and together with partners we are better able to use the experience and knowledge gained in a period of rapid expansion and learning to meet new challenges with confidence. And rapid expansion it certainly has been – the UK has been recycling at a pace these last few years and not just playing ‘catch up’ – in some areas we are now ahead of our North American and European counterparts, in contrast to the less flattering portrait that we deserved at one time.

The challenges are great – for the country as a whole and for the climate. In this next period, we need to maintain the good progress made on diverting material from landfill, and find new uses for materials and ways to process our recyclable materials more efficiently – extending the impact of this work wherever possible. In addition, we have the  ven greater challenge of preventing waste in the first place and ensuring that everything we do contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions and ultimately minimises impact on climate change. In doing this, winning the hearts and minds of people – whether they be at home, at work, travelling or at leisure – is a vital ingredient, and so behaviour change has tobe integral to our thinking in every programme we deliver.

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