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Stop wasting your waste: new Professor bids to end the 'one-bin' culture

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-The Royal Academy of Engineering
-SITA Environmental Trust
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For immediate release
Thursday 2 June 2005

Applying science to end the UK's 'one-bin' culture and turn our waste into a valuable source of raw materials is the goal of a new Professor at Imperial College London.

Professor Sue Grimes

Professor Sue Grimes, the College's first Chair of Waste Management, will develop technologies for reusing and recycling anything from household rubbish to large tonnage waste from the construction industry. She hopes her research will put an end to the culture that lumps all waste together, from food to computer components and carpets, allowing potentially valuable resources to go un-recovered.

Professor Grimes said: "The general public in the UK has grown up with a 'one-bin' culture for the disposal of household wastes. Although attitudes are changing, industry and commerce also tend to regard the waste they dispose of as being low in value or worthless.

"As consumers, we need to start thinking about using the materials in waste rather than disposing of them in landfill sites and in other less than environmentally friendly ways. The key is to explore using waste as a resource through the fundamentals of engineering, science and management, so that our waste only consists of materials destined for final disposal."

With the creation of the post, Imperial aims to become a centre for excellence in waste management and research.

"I intend that our centre will become a natural point of contact for the waste industry and other stakeholders in the UK and throughout the world," she adds.

Professor Grimes became the first woman in a Chair sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering when she took up the appointment as the SITA/Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Waste Management on 1 June.

Her research interests include the fundamentals of waste and waste-water treatment, clean process technology, recycle from waste, and environmental management. In 2000, Professor Grimes led a team that won the Institute of Wastes Management Millennium Prize for a study on London's biodegradable waste. (See Notes)

The post has been funded by SITA Environmental Trust, through the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, with additional funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering. John Leaver, Chairman of SITA Environmental Trust, said: "The waste management industry has made huge advances in research in recent years but there are many challenges ahead. We are delighted to be supporting such an influential role."

Professor David Nethercot, Head of the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: "Managing waste effectively is an enormous scientific challenge. The creation of the new Chair is a great opportunity to bring together academics and industry to find creative answers. With her strong background in finding innovative solutions to waste management problems, we are delighted that Professor Grimes is joining the College."


For further information please contact:

Laura Gallagher
Press Officer
Communications Department
Imperial College London
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6702
Mobile: +44 (0) 7803 886 248

Notes to editors:

1. Pictures of Professor Grimes are available in 300 dpi.

2. Professor Sue Grimes - biographical notes

Professor Grimes received her first degree in Chemistry from the University of London, and a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from The City University, London. She took up a Research Fellowship at The City University in 1982 and was awarded an MBA from the same institution in 1988.

In 1990, Professor Grimes took up a Lectureship at Brunel University, where she went on to set up the Centre for Environmental Research in 1997. She has been Director of the Centre since its inception and during her time there she has supervised more than 70 research students. In 2000, Professor Grimes led a team from her Brunel research group, and the Thames region of the Environment agency, to win the Institute of Wastes Management Millennium Prize for a study on London's biodegradable waste. She became a Professor in 2002.

She has acted as a consultant on issues such as material recovery from waste, recycling metals as added value chemicals and environmental legislative compliance, to a range of organisations including the waste, food, metal recovery, electronics and textile industries.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a member of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management. She has published over 100 research papers.

3. About Imperial College London

Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,000) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality.
Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that enhance the quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

4. About The Royal Academy of Engineering

Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.

5. About SITA Environmental Trust

  • SITA Environmental Trust was set up in 1997 and funds projects that improve sustainable waste management across the UK and projects that improve community life and the natural environment close to active SITA UK owned landfill sites.
  • Each year the Trust distributes approximately £6 million nationwide.
  • For information on how to apply for funding from SITA Environmental Trust call (01454) 262910 or click on
  • For any other enquiries re the SITA Environmental Trust or the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme please contact Anthony Durston, Communications Manager, SITA Environmental Trust, The Barn, Brinkmarsh Lane, Falfield, S. Gloucestershire, GL12 8PT on +44 (0)1454 262940.

6. About The Landfill Tax Credit Scheme

  • Landfill tax was introduced in 1996 to encourage more sustainable ways of managing waste.
  • The landfill tax legislation also brought about the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme. This scheme allows landfill operators to voluntarily donate 6.8% of their landfill tax liability to environmental improvement projects.
  • The Landfill Tax Credit scheme is independently regulated on behalf of HM Government's Customs & Excise by ENTRUST.