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Waste and recycling – the value of the media

The headlines have been swamped recently with reports of the seemingly inaccurate and negative coverage, published by the Daily Mail, regarding household recycling.

This latest error has prompted industry professionals to question the support of the UK media, when it comes to waste management. Admittedly, imprecise and exaggerated articles will undoubtedly influence the public’s perception of waste and recycling. This is not ideal at a time when their commitment to progress is needed as much as ours.

However to improve this situation we must consider other factors too.

Disparities often arise when it comes to industry statistics. This is something Steve Lee, from the CIWM, highlighted at an Energy from Waste conference earlier in the year. Organisations regularly publish insightful data, reports and survey findings, but it is not unheard of for one ‘fact’ to contradict another. This is not because anyone is being intentionally misleading, but obtaining accurate, consistent and representative information often appears to be tough.

It could also be argued that more needs to be done to nurture relationships with the UK media. This is not necessarily an easy task across the board. However, we have a wide variety of informative news resources at our fingertips, in our own sector and beyond, and we each need to ‘do our bit’ to keep them updated about the developments we are working hard to achieve.

As we eluded to in a website article in March, preparing press releases, case studies and industry commentary is not a case of ‘blowing your own trumpet’. On the contrary, interesting, advice-led content will help to raise much-needed awareness of the techniques we are each pioneering, and will help build confidence in the UK’s waste, energy and sustainability agendas.

Chris Murphy, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management, has recently made a very good point on this matter. He is reported to have said that “…we have to tell the public what we do, why, and how much it costs…” (MRW online, 20/04/14). And we agree. If we don’t keep our peers and general communities informed about our hard work, the challenges we face and the opportunities we are harnessing for our nation, it is perhaps inevitable that they will believe every headline they read in the national newspapers.

To keep informed of the latest news and views from UNTHA UK, why not follow us on Twitter. We also distribute a quarterly electronic newsletter which you can subscribe to by emailing us with the subject “Subscribe”.

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