Today we are announcing a spend of £1m on our clean streets campaign. The success of the city’s business sector in 2018/19 meant that greater than forecasted business rates were collected, allowing a portion of that surplus to be invested in the Clean Streets Action Plan in this financial year.
This is great news for the city. We have received great support for the campaign, including the introduction of fines for people who litter our streets.
But our Bristol Clean Streets campaign has always been about much more than litter. It has been about transforming the nature of the relationship between our city and its waste.
The transformation we are pursuing extends from the generation of waste, to the way we dispose of it, to its transportation, reuse, recycling, conversion to energy or other end state.
Waste is one of the foremost challenges – and opportunities – facing cities in a world that is rapidly urbanising. It’s one confronting every city on every continent, those in the global North and South, rich and poor.
If we succeed in meeting the waste challenge, we will improve the quality of life in the city and reduce our impact on the world around us – in particular reducing the plastics to sea, securing access to new sources of energy and saving money.
I recently met with the heads of our own Bristol Waste company. We talked about the importance of this challenge for Bristol and the urgent need to see and evidence we are making progress as a city.
It was clear to me coming out of the meeting that as a city we need to view Bristol Waste and those who work for it not as the people who come behind us dealing with the aspects of life we no longer value. Rather, they are in front of us, using their expertise in waste to lead us. There is something very proverbial in this, that those who have sometimes been undervalued turn out to be those with the solutions to one our most pressing problems and biggest opportunities.
For their part I have asked Bristol Waste to live up to this leadership challenge. Their job is not only to collect our waste. Rather it is to speak into the wider city system. They must also challenge and support business to change practices to reduce the amount of waste generated, drive the practices and partnerships that increase recycling and re-use, while scanning the horizon for the latest technologies and opportunities to give waste a second life as things such as energy.