Government priorities can drive local waste partnerships towards the achievement of central targets and efficiency savings rather than wider sustainable waste management objectives, a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council shows.
Reducing levels of waste and disposing of it in environmentally acceptable ways are significant issues facing policymakers. And, as in other areas of public service delivery, partnership working is a now a key component in waste management with partnerships between local authorities and between the public, private and community waste sectors involved in efforts to develop more sustainable systems.
The research, conducted by a team led by Jim Frederickson at The Open University, examined the different types of partnership operating in the waste management sector. It shows how regulatory and economic pressures imposed by central government can lead to local waste partnerships prioritising short-term targets.
The major challenge in contemporary waste management, the research suggests, is to address demand patterns by reducing levels of waste throughout the supply chain and managing the waste that is produced more sustainably. European Union legislation is imposing progressively tighter restrictions on the amount of municipal waste that can dumped in landfill sites, and authorities face individual recycling and composing targets. As a result of the Governments 2004 Gershon efficiency review, local authorities are also expected to produce about 300 million of efficiency savings on waste services by 2007-08.
Although most waste partnerships seek to reduce disposal of waste in landfill sites by increasing recycling and composting there is far more limited promotion of sustainable practices such as waste reduction and reuse of discarded items areas where there are not yet statutory targets.
Commenting on the research Frederickson said: Performance targets can lead to perve
|Contact: Danielle Moore|
Economic & Social Research Council