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 Government’s 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 perverse outcomes. The introduction of free garden waste collections is an example of what can be, a relatively easy gain in meeting targets to improve recycling rates even though this can increase the overall amount of waste collected. By contrast, community sector representatives can have difficulties in engaging local authorities support for projects to reuse furniture because re-use activities did not contribute to recycling targets.”
Large-scale centralised facilities – such as those developed under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) – may appear to be a desirable way of meeting statutory obligations but, comments the research, this approach raises concerns for the long-term. There is a risk, say the researchers, that large-scale contracts can “lock authorities into particular technologies and processes and in doing so stifle innovation.”
The researchers found evidence of relationships between local authorities and their service providers changing from a contract culture to a partnership one. They also found innovative, flexible and locally-based collection methods emerging through partnerships between local authorities and community sector organisations.
When successful, partnership working can facilitate learning and understanding of different partners’ perspectives. Fredrickson, comments, "This has enabled local authorities to improve recycling and composting in ways which it would have been difficult to achieve in isolation".
The research findings suggest, however, that “partnership working is rarely straightforward and can be fraught with difficulties and tensions.” Emotional commitment, shared vision, agreed objectives, development and maintenance of trust, transparency, respect and communication were all necessary for partnerships to succeed.
Tensions arose from the objectives of partnerships competing with those of individual partners. The research doubts whether partnerships formed primarily to access central government funding, and without having developed a shared history and sense of trust, would be successful at joint working.
One of the most common factors limiting the scope of partnerships was lack of executive powers. Decision-making processes could be cumbersome and lead to duplication, with no repercussions for partners who failed to deliver. Some partnerships were seeking to address this by evolving into statutory single waste authorities, although the options for doing so are constrained under current legislation. However since the research was carried out there are proposed changes to the current legislation that will make it easier for partnerships to become single waste authorities.
Partnerships are not necessarily aligned with local governance structures and, warn the researchers, can therefore lead to more centralised solutions and work against local governance. Efficiencies associated with streamlining and centralising decision-making needed to be balanced against potential loss of sovereignty and local accountability.
Danielle Moore | alfa
Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur
What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
25.07.2018 | Event News
15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
15.08.2018 | Earth Sciences
15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy