Islands’ Waste Management Could Provide Businesses Opportunities

Waste management site at Moorwell

Waste management site at Moorwell

Scilly’s waste management challenges could provide new business and employment opportunities.

That’s the view of the Waste Consultative Forum, which held a second meeting on Tuesday evening.

The group has been set up at Defra’s suggestion, to channel community feedback into the Council’s waste strategy.

SLR waste consultant, Andy Street, said his company had worked on the remote island of St Helena in the Atlantic. There, locals couldn’t rely on the Council for a solution, so they found their own.

Entrepreneurs recycled virtually everything and also provided employment opportunities for marginalised members of the community.

Andy suggested that locals may want to seize opportunities themselves rather than expect the Council to sort it out and members seem to like that idea.

It was felt that future European funds could be accessed to kick-start social enterprises, such as refurbishing white goods and even old bikes.

Adam Blackwell offered a word of caution, though. He warned that that the scale of the market on the islands can be limiting.

Mark Prebble said the Council and Duchy would have to recognise the need for workspace and offer more places for businesses.

Council Director of Place Craig Dryden accepted that, but pointed out that all of the islands are a conservation area, which was a planning challenge.

Again, a lot more could be done with our waste material to generate income once it is sorted, Andy Street told the group. He highlighted the waste materials, which could be potentially sorted and sold.

They include cardboard, cans and metals and there are people who would, “give their right arm” for wood on the mainland, he said.

Whilst there was agreement that waste is every islander’s problem, bodies outside the islands also need to be told how their actions impact on us.

The meeting heard that since the wholesalers closed, there’s been a major increase in packaging, particularly from the Co-op, and freight is bound with plastic for delivery to the off-islands.

Craig Dryden also felt that the amount of waste generated by Amazon packaging was significant.

The biggest challenge is dealing with old mattresses. Andy said he’d never seen so many in any of the locations where he has worked, and they’re hard to dispose of because they don’t shred easily.

Louise Graham and Tim Guthrie both felt that was down to Visit Britain assessors requiring regular replacements.

Cllr Steve Sims, who heads up the Council’s General Purposes committee, was elected Chairman of the group.

He pointed out that the new forum is separate to the Council.

Steve said it was a positive meeting and some elements of mistrust or apprehension had evaporated by the end.

Other members include Cllr Chris Thomas. As a former ship’s captain, he says he’s had to deal with waste on large vessels and he feels that the islands are essentially like a boat that doesn’t move.

Louise Graham and Tim Guthrie are representing self-catering businesses, while Mark Prebble attends for Transition Scilly and Sarah Mason is there as the Wildlife Trust manager.

Hotelier Clifford Freeman, builder Adam Blackwell and St Agnes councillor Richard McCarthy also serve on the group.

Also on board is Council Director of Place, Craig Dryden and Duchy Land Steward Chris Gregory.

Ray Wornes, who has a longstanding interest in waste management, sits on the group.

Tresco has been given as an example of good practice in how they tackle waste and that’s why Nick Shiles and Mike Nelhams are members.

The group will visit Tresco’s facilities at their next meeting.

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