Jamie Hailstone 08 August 2017

Energy-from-waste putting pressure on recycling rates, claims report

Energy-from-waste putting pressure on recycling rates, claims report image

A surge in the number of energy-from-waste and incinerator plants being built in the UK could limit recycling rates, according to a new report.

The latest version of Eunomia’s Residual Waste Infrastructure Review predicts if all the energy-from-waste and incinerator facilities in the country were to operate at full capacity, they would limit the UK’s recycling rate to 63%.

According to the report, the UK has more than doubled its residual waste treatment capacity since 2009-10, which has increased from 6.3 million tonnes to 13.5 million tonnes.

But over the same period, the amount of non-recyclable waste suitable for treatment has fallen from an estimated 30 million tonnes per annum to around 26 million.

‘Our latest report shows that the UK continues inexorably towards the point where we have more residual waste treatment capacity than we need,’ said report author, Harriet Parke.

‘If facilities already in construction are built, and only these, we think the UK could still recycle some 63%  of waste, but if just 40% of what is in planning was also built, the recycling rate could be further limited to 57%.’

But the executive director of the Environmental Services Association, Jacob Hayler, said the findings in Eunomia’s report are flawed and have been ‘contradicted by report after report from everyone else who’s looked at our residual waste treatment needs’.

‘The consensus position on waste treatment is that we will end up over five million tonnes short of energy from waste capacity by 2030. This is what the government needs to understand if it is not to sleepwalk into a capacity crisis,’ said Hayler.

According to Shlomo Dowen, national coordinator of the UK Without Incineration Network,: 'Most reports on residual waste treatment capacity are commissioned by companies with a financial stake in investment in new waste incineration capacity, whereas Eunomia's reports are more independent.

'Eunomia's latest report confirms that we will soon have more incineration capacity than residual waste. However, this understates the problem because much of what is currently described as 'residual waste' can actually be recycled or composted.

'We already have more incineration capacity than we will have genuinely residual waste to burn, and so have already reached 'overcapacity' in the UK. We need to be recycling our waste, not wasting millions of pounds building yet more incinerators that will be redundant in a Circular Economy.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Service Manager - Children in Care

Pembrokeshire County Council
£46,514 - £48,412
The successful candidate will need to be able to manage a large number of competing and at times conflicting priorities, whilst... Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)
Recuriter: Pembrokeshire County Council

Neighbourhood Services Divisional Manager

Northumberland County Council
£60,253
You will provide professional and technical advice on all Neighbourhood Services functions. As an effective leader you will coordinate and manage... Northumberland
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council

Service Fulfilment Analyst (IT Technician)

Essex County Council
£24001.0 - £28280 per annum + plus benefits
Please note this is a 6 month, fixed term contract / secondment opportunity. Essex County Council (ECC) is one of the largest and most dynamic local a England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Team Manager - Adoption South Essex

Essex County Council
£46001.0 - £57000.0 per annum
Essex County Council (ECC) is one of the largest and most dynamic local authorities in the UK, serving a population of 2 million residents, and has a England, Essex, Basildon
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Social Worker - Family Support & Protection

Essex County Council
Negotiable
We are one of the most effective and progressive Children and Families Service in the country. Our vision is to support families through strengths bas England, Essex, Basildon
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how public sector organisations can unlock the hidden value in their land, and why a new approach to construction could help boost the outcomes of the Government’s One Public Estate programme.

The December issue also considers why learnings from ancient cities could provide the key to promoting wellbeing in the modern built environment. It also contains a case study on how the London Borough of Westminster has provided high quality care for the elderly alongside a block of luxury apartments.

Register for your free digital issue