The appointment of Steve Lee as director general of Resource and Waste UK (R&WUK) was not a surprise but it is welcome nonetheless that he will continue to play an important role within the sector.
Lee steps down as chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) at the end of October after 13 years, during which time he has done a huge amount to raise the profile of the industry.
It was in recognition of that contribution that I chose Lee to be the recipient of the Editor’s Award at the National Recycling Awards in July, and why we sat down a few weeks ago for an MRWBig Interview looking back on those 13 years.
Lee’s continuing role at R&WUK – with a change of title from chief executive – was not a surprise because his successor at CIWM, Colin Church, did not assume both jobs when his appointment was announced recently. There was also general agreement from those I spoke to that the sector could ill-afford to lose such a professional and personable leader.
It also means that Lee can reinforce Church and others in a more weighty set of respected industry voices for ministers and civil servants to listen to as they frame a future for environment policy outside the EU.
In our interview, I suggested that the joint body, created in late 2014, had had a quiet year after producing two reports (on national policy and sharing risk) in 2015. I wondered if this was down to potential conflicts between CIWM and the ESA as markets get tighter and margins are cut.
Lee was upbeat: “We’re still doing exactly what we said we would do when we set the thing up. We’re looking for big, unifying messages. Right across the industry, I think it’s one of the best changes that I’ve seen in the last five to six years.”
Lee’s main point was that CIWM was a broad church (pun intended) and the range of views on any policy was as wide as in the overall waste management community.
The rest of our conversation covers Europe, the circular economy, tough markets and devolved governance. The Big Interview will be published in the next issue of MRW which is our annual ‘special’ for RWM.