5 Aug 2010

Too hot to handle

The issue of a possible 'energy from waste' incinerator in St Albans district is hotting up. Two bidders have been chosen to work up their plans for consideration. I blogged on this last year, when the council announced it had won PFI money from the government for the project.

Herts Without Waste does a good job of putting the main points of the case against:

Hertfordshire County Council wants to burn £220 million of YOUR money on a new incinerator!

Incinerators with ‘energy recovery’ are currently being considered for Hertfordshire. Yet this expensive and outdated technology is not the only scheme Hertfordshire could adopt.

There are alternatives to incineration that are less polluting, more energy efficient, and better for the environment and your purse.

We oppose incineration because it:

• Worsens climate change by releasing the carbon trapped in the plastics and organic matter which is burnt.

• Causes pollution by creating toxic ash which is sent to landfill where the pollutants leak out into ground water and water courses. Also causes harmful air pollution.

• Destroys valuable materials that could be recycled into new products. Recycling saves far more energy than is created by burning waste, as it avoids having to make products from virgin materials. Burning also undermines recycling by destroying materials that could otherwise be recycled, e.g. food waste, paper, card, plastics etc.

• Doesn’t provide an incentive for reducing waste. Incinerators require a large amount of rubbish in order to operate, relying on a constant stream of waste. So even if we want to increase our recycling – we can’t!

• Is the most expensive option - £220 Million in this case - and will tie us into a contract for 25-30 years.

So what’s the alternative?

Around 85% of the waste in your bin can be recycled. And yet in Hertfordshire we only recycle around 45%. We need to increase recycling facilities, to make it easier for you to recycle more.

We also need to employ forward-looking technologies such as anaerobic digestion, which reduce consumption, re-use resources, create jobs and reduce climate change impacts. This would allow us to reduce and eventually eliminate any waste which can not be re-used or recycled.

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