No time to waste…

A new report that sets out how Newcastle could become a world leader in waste reduction was unveiled today (Thurs Feb 1).

The 50-page publication entitled No Time to Waste is packed with ideas and actions to dramatically cut the amount of waste we produce.

The city collects 142,000 tonnes of it every year – that’s enough to fill St James Park entirely every three years and it’s becoming increasingly costly to process.  When business and industrial waste is added this figure is much higher. 

The report coincides with a number of recent announcements by Government and big business aimed at reducing single use plastic which is harming wildlife and damaging the environment.

Drawn up by experts on the Newcastle Waste Commission, the report suggests:

  • a voluntary ban on single use plastics in the city
  • a voluntary ban on drinking straws in pubs, clubs and restaurants
  • setting an ambitious target to be a zero-food waste city
  • a re-use mall where unwanted items can be bought, sold and swapped
  • exploring alternatives to the council sending waste to Sweden
  • setting up a city-wide partnership for groups to share ideas and good practice

The report’s findings were presented to an invited audience at Newcastle’s Mansion House by Heidi Mottram, Chair of the Commission and Chief Executive of Northumbrian Water Group.

Ms Mottram said: “Waste, and how we deal with it, is one of the biggest challenges facing our generation.

“Thanks to TV programmes like Blue Planet the threat that it poses have struck a chord with millions of people and there now appears to be a growing acceptance that we can’t just carry on doing the same old things.

“We all have a responsibility to wise-up to waste and do our bit. This report is full of ideas, big and small, short term and long term. I want as many people as possible to read it. If everyone pledges to do at least one thing then together we can make a big difference.

“Ultimately, the people of Newcastle hold the key to success. By reducing waste, recycling more and reusing everyday items, the city can make a step change.”

If the measures in the report are implemented it’s estimated waste could be reduced by 10 per cent by 2025, and recycling rates improved from 42 per cent to 65 per cent by 2030. Up to 1,000 jobs and millions of pounds for the local economy could also be generated.

The Newcastle Waste Commission, made up of seven leading experts from the world of waste, was formed 10 months ago, and although it was commissioned by Newcastle City Council, it is independent. Its recommendations are for the city and not just the city council.

It met six times in London and Newcastle, hearing evidence from a broad range of organisations from charities to big business, hospitals to community clean-up groups before compiling its report and recommendations.

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, who received the report on behalf of the city, said: “Newcastle is a hugely ambitious city and we want to be on the world stage when it comes to dealing with waste.

“The report is extremely thorough. Many different ways of dealing with waste have been considered and, for that reason, it will be of interest to every town and city in the country.

“We all generate waste, whether it be discarded food, old clothing, cardboard packaging or just general household waste. The big challenge now is how we can come together to work in partnership and turn this report into a call for action.”

A full copy of the report with seven high level recommendations is available on the Wise on Waste website at:

The council will work with partners across the city to implement as many of the recommendations as possible.