Consultancy Eunomia made headlines this morning on the BBC’s Today program*, by reporting that the boom in incinerator building across the country will harm recycling rates.
Nationally, incinerator capacity has more than doubled since 2010, while waste volumes have reduced as people and councils put “Reduce, Re-Use, Re-Cycle” into action. With an over-supply of expensive incinerators requiring waste streams to feed them, councils will end up with an incentive not to improve recycling rates further. This is even more of a problem for councils, like our own, who have tied themselves into contracts that guarantee waste volumes.
This is, of course, not news: it’s the same argument that GlosVAIN and Stroud Green Party have been making for many years. But good to see that it may be making its way into the wider public conciousness.
Chair of the Environment Committee at Stroud District Council, Cllr Simon Pickering said “This is exactly what Stroud District council has been saying since Gloucestershire County Council chose incineration as their preferred method of dealing with residual waste. If every local authority in Gloucestershire hit the recycling level that the residents of Stroud have done, the County Council would have to be buying in waste to feed the incinerator. It is a financial white elephant and an environmental disaster waiting to happen.”
Many years ago waste incineration was argued to be a “green” option; because the alternative was assumed to be burning coal for energy and putting waste in landfill. But with much cleaner options now available both for energy generation and for waste processing, incinerators are now a very dirty and low-tech solution.
The BBC also reported the protests against Gloucestershire’s incinerator proposals, the latest action in saga that has run for over 7 years now. The council’s complete lack of transparency over the contract details, and their apparent distain for democracy or debate, are making the Tory administration look bad; while Eric Pickles’ overturning of the planning decision makes the national government look pretty incompetant also.
Rachel Smith, Green County Councillor for the Minchinhampton Division commented: “ The Tory led Council are still refusing to come clean on the actual amount being spent on the Javelin Park incinerator. The most significant changes in recent years nationally, have been the switch from landfilling of waste to incinerating it. This reflects a complete absence of ambition, and gives rise to costs that are not justified by the benefits. The current Government trend in building incinerators will make a mockery of the ambition of Environment Secretary, Michael Gove to achieve a “Green Brexit!”
* for the Today program audio click here and go to 2hrs 7 minutes.