Waste Incineration Predicted To Overtake Waste Recycling This Year
England’s Green party published a new report that showed that for the first time, England is about to burn more waste than it recycles. English authorities stated that energy from waste incineration tripled from 2010 t0 2017, while recycling in households has remained at the same rate since 2013.
If the trend remains unchanged, the amount of waste incinerated will surpass the ton of waste recycled before the current financial year comes to an end. Figures indicate that London, West Midlands and the north-east already burn more waste at the moment than what they recycle.
The U.K.’s Green party raised alarm at the prospect that waste incineration may soon be the overriding norm with recycling relegated to the background. The Green Party argues that while it may be sensible to derive energy from waste via incineration when it cannot be reused or recycled, but incineration is supposed to be a last resort option.
“There is a logic to generating energy from the waste that we cannot recycle or reuse, but it is meant to be the last resort option. What we have created instead is a market-driven system of incinerators which constantly need to be fed,” said Baroness Jones of the Green party.
The Green party report showed that between 2016 and 2017, up to 4 million tons of waste was dumped in landfills, up to 10 million tons were incinerated and over 11 million tons composted or recycled.
In 2014, there were 26 incinerating or energy-from-waste facilities in the United Kingdom, but this number grew to 40 in 2017. Collectively, the facilities are capable of processing about 12 million tons of waste each year, and this number is predicted to jump to about 16 million tonnes by 2022.
“Too often the debate is set up as recycling versus incineration – that’s the wrong way to frame it,” said Jacob Hayler, executive director at ESA, the waste trade association. “Really, it’s landfill against incineration for things you can’t recycle.”
Hayler blamed budget cuts to local authorities as the reason for recycling stagnation and said the increase in incineration rates were not the problem.
“The trend is there isn’t enough policy support for recycling, so recycling rates have slowed down,” said Hayler.