Antony Greener, Director for Waste Management at Birmingham City Council, blogs about the role he started last month…
With responsibility for refuse collection, recycling, street cleansing, fleet management and waste disposal, I am thrilled to be taking charge of the largest council waste management service in the country.
I bring much of my experience and expertise from Nottingham City Council where, as well as managing waste services, I was also responsible for delivering energy services including infrastructure and supply, district heating and domestic energy efficiency programmes.
I am hoping to repeat my award winning successes there (Local Government Chronicle Energy Efficiency Winner 2014) by developing Birmingham’s waste services, whilst ensuring that the wider opportunities are identified and secured for the city too.
This starts with ensuring better accessibility and reliability of our street cleaning and waste collection services, ensuring that everyone is involved in developing and delivering solutions.
I believe that all stakeholders have to be clear about their roles and responsibilities – not just my staff but also customers and citizens alike, despite us all leading very busy lives. Going that extra mile seems like extra effort until it becomes habit and you wonder why it was ever any different.
I started my waste management career over two decades ago as an assistant recycling officer. During that time I have witnessed, and been part of, a waste revolution. Back then, councils which had recycling bottle banks in their supermarket car parks were considered to be ahead of their time!
Now we focus on the financial and environmental value of waste as a commodity, treating it as a valuable resource, which if collected and processed in the right way can work for us, rather than against us to provide reusable products, raw material replacements or even fuel.
There is no “one size fits all” solution and our collection and waste treatment processes must continue to evolve and improve to suit demand. Birmingham needs to be leading this transformation from the front.
Waste management is a passion which requires a number of disciplines. In a typical day I have to be a people manager, a lawyer, an engineer, a logistics expert, an accountant, a marketing manager and even a sociologist or psychologist.
There is certainly never a dull moment because everyone has an opinion on what we should do with our waste and how we should deal with it.
We are never going to please everyone because there is a cost envelope in delivering our services, but we can and, under my stewardship, we will continually strive to deliver greater and greater sustainability.