Sight of Edinburgh’s overflowing bins disheartening
For many committed to the cause of waste management, it has been disheartening to see refuse accumulating on the streets of Edinburgh and in other parts of Scotland this summer. However, earlier in the year, it was Brighton. And there may be more to come.
The root cause, of course, is the cost of living crisis. The failure of public sector pay to keep in step with increasing costs over many years has created a gap and the runaway inflation rate is now causing the issue to unwind.
The increasing fuel and food prices we are experiencing have forced workers and their unions to act. But as many will have no doubt noticed, it’s not only waste management services that are being disrupted by industrial action.
Energy security and reducing the market volatility of energy prices is central to lowering inflation and making costs more generally affordable across the economy. To stave off energy insecurity, there is much speculation about the UK licensing drilling activity to release some of the 15 billion barrels of oil and gas still estimated to be under the North Sea. It is imperative that this is only a short term solution.
The danger for the UK, and indeed the global community, is that we drop the ball on environmental issues. Quite simply, in our efforts to address the crisis, we cannot afford to let policies and activities for transitioning to net zero to be undermined.
Serious impacts as the effects become more apparent
The UK must prioritise wind, solar and nuclear energy, because the warnings from the environment leave us in no doubt about the importance of sticking with our green plans. Extreme weather events and other consequences related to the warming of our planet continue to create deep and lasting impacts on communities, countries and regions around the world.
A record breaking heat wave in the UK, with wildfires and drought following in its wake. Swathes of Europe and the US burning uncontrollably for days on end. Extensive flooding in countries such as Australia and most shockingly, Pakistan, where up to one-third of the country is under water, caused by glacial melt waters and a “monsoon on steroids”.
Not only do we need to stay on track with carbon reduction targets, there is in fact every reason to suggest we accelerate our efforts. 40C summers in Europe and 50C heat waves across Asia are now expected to be the rule rather than the exception; a global sea-level rise of at least 27cm from the melting of the Greenland ice cap is now inevitable.
Don’t let waste management get overshadowed by energy
Besides the risk of our efforts to get to net zero being blown off course by our renewed interest in fossil fuel, there is a risk that our other environmental goals get overshadowed. Waste management is at least as important as energy – it’s another prerequisite, a brick in the foundations that support a functioning society.
The build-up of waste on the streets of Edinburgh, or anywhere else for that matter, poses a public health risk, which would be unwelcome, to say the least, given the challenges facing the NHS and socialised healthcare in the UK.
In short, we must not let environmental issues get left behind as we attempt to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, because we can sorely afford any more delays in creating a more sustainable society.
With so many high priority issues vying for funding, public sector budgets now find themselves under even greater pressure. Whitespace waste management solutions have a track record of helping local authorities and their waste management outsourced partners to deliver better waste management outcomes while enabling cost reduction.