Anti-incineration campaign groups, alongside groups campaigning for zero waste, have enjoyed a series of presentation delivered by the world renowned Professor Paul Connett.

Under the heading “Incineration: A Poor Solution for the Twenty First Century” Dr. Paul Connett, Executive Director of the American Environmental Health Studies Project, explored issues of concern and offered more sustainable alternative approaches to resource management than the various forms of incineration.

UKWIN is pleased to have received a copy of the presentation slides that Dr. Connett used for his recent Gloucester presentation. Because this presentation is too large to download from the UKWIN website, those who wish to receive an electronic copy (about 5Mg) should contact Shlomo Dowen.

Various videos of Dr. Connett’s highly acclaimed talks are available, including one at The EcoIvy website was created by Ivybridge residents to raise awareness about Viridor’s plan to build a ‘Resource Recovery Centre’ at New England Quarry, less than two miles from the beautiful town of Ivybridge which is situated on the edge of Dartmoor National Park in South Hams Devon.

UKWIN is also honoured to be able to share the following brief report from Dr. Connett, regarding his recent “Waste Tour”:

I have just concluded a very exciting “waste” trip which started on January 12, with a presentation on Zero Waste at the UN and ended in the UK on Feb 4. I have already shared my excitement about the UN meeting. This excitement continued with a trip that took me to Italy (17 presentations), Spain (4 presentations – thank you Mariko – and the UK ( 4 presentations). I got back last night. Each country revealed some very important developments, especially on the Zero Waste front. As people have already been told, the Mayor of Rome has been invited to go to San Francisco to share his experiences on sustainability and look at the Zero Waste program in SF. The mayor of Rome is an important figure and this could have huge significance for Rome and Italy as a whole if he is convinced that this is the way to go.

Also in Italy we had a very successful launch of the first Zero Waste Research Center in Capannori (near Lucca). Around this launch Rossano Ercolini organized a very successful conference. People came from all parts of Italy to celebrate this important moment. Speakers included the mayor of Capannori, provincial officials, myself, Enzo Favoino, Rossano, Joan Marc Simon (GAIA rep in Brussels) and several others including a spokesperson for a waste company setting up a Residual Separation and Research facility near Trapani in Sicily (which I will be visiting – hopefully opening! – later this month). So not just one dream but two dreams coming true in Italy. Throughout my trip I met with several U. professors (Italy, Spain and UK) who are interested in the concept of using Zero Waste as a stepping stone to Sustainability. Hopefully with Joan Marc’s help we can get some EU money to support pilot projects in this area.

In Alba, Italy I met up with Roberto Cavallo one of the three cavaliers of Zero Waste in Italy (Favoino, Ecolini and Cavallo). Roberto is one of the best consultants on waste minimization efforts including elegant application of the pay by bag system for the residual fraction. Using this he has helped several communities exceed 80% diversion. For example Villafranco d’Asti (population 30,000) is up to 85% diversion.

In Spain I was excited to meet another effective proponent of door to door collection (the Italian method!) who informed me that the town of Ursibil in Basque country is at 86% diversion! This town is confronted with an incinerator proposal which reminds us that it is often the threat of an incinerator proposal which engenders the passion to organize an alternative. Also in Spain I spoke with a very well organized and passionate community (Moncada i Reixac) fighting the plans of a massive cement factory (La Farge) to burn waste as a fuel – euphemistically called “biomass.” The Orwellian terminology extended to calling the cement product, “ecological cement”!!! Needless to say the local people are not being taken in by this nonsense. One citizen produced a 250 ml jam bottle filled with the cement dust that they had collected from their veranda in less than two months. In UK there is an equally intolerable cement facility (Cemex) running on the edge of Rugby – a short distance from the famous Rugby school (home of the sport of Rugby). They too want to use refused derived fuel to make their cement and plan to build a 400,000 tpy facility right next to the plant. Meanwhile, the citizens of Rugby are trying to recycle and compost their own waste, but are being demoralized because of the County’s plan to import waste from far and wide!!

One of the exciting young professors I met in Bologna is very keen to network with Capannori and Trapani Zero Waste research centers and he is working with Joan Marc to help get funding for this. They hope to get several other communities in Europe to join in. I may have found another in Coventry. We had a very exciting meeting at an Organic Center (half way between Coventry and Rugby). People attending the meeting included Professors from both the U. Warwick and U. Coventry; activists fighting a new incinerator proposed for Coventry (one of these -Jane Green- helped to set up this meeting), representatives of the organic center as well as an organization working on Climate change and a young engineer determined to introduce the sustainability ethic into industrial design. Their response to the notion of a residual screening and research center and linking zero waste to sustainability was very positive. They were excited to hear about the UN talk and the developments in both Italy and Spain, and the possibility of European funding. The meeting generated a lot of positive ideas and creative suggestions.

My tour ended with talks in Derby (community fighting off their second gasification proposal); Ivybridge near Plymouth, Devon (community fighting off a mass burn incinerator proposed by Viridor in an absolutely exquisite landscape – bit like taking a dagger to a Constable painting) (organizer Ian Carter) and a community near Gloucester where the county wants to build an incinerator in a equally beautiful area – the Seven vale located between the Seven River and the edge of the Cotswolds (organizers Diana and David Shirley). Total madness but prompted by another financial scam called PFI. The exciting thing from my perspective is that each of these battles is producing some very good organizers able to draw on a local resources to mount effective and creative campaigns. What we need now is for these to network among themselves more effectively by building on the invaluable information provided on the UKWIN website and the indefatigable energy provided by Ralph Ryder to strengthen what could become a very solid anti-incinerator alliance in the UK. The key I believe is for more of these organizers to meet each other in person. This is the glue for effective national alliances – key people meeting each other in person and realizing what an incredible human resource there is fighting the nonsense of incineration and more and more fighting for Zero Waste.

If I needed reminding (and I don’t!) what a tremendous privilege it is working with some of the best people who walk on this planet – this trip to Italy, Spain and the UK did it. Thanks everyone for doing what you do – every day for your children, for your community and for the planet – to fight the poison and working towards a more sustainable future. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your efforts to fight the poison of incineration and working towards a more sustainable future.

Paul Connett

10 Responses to “Anti-incineration groups benefit from Paul Connett presentations”

  1. I went to Paul Connett’s talk in Ivybridge on 3 February and can only say that I do not understand how anyone who listens to him could possibly think that incineration is a solution – on health or economic grounds! How can we get the decision-makers to hear him? Sadly Viridor rubbished his talk in the following day’s local newspaper – but they would, wouldn’t they! We still seem to have such a long way to go to bring the community to the logical conclusion that zero waste is our only way forward.

  2. I fully agree Geraldine.
    Prof Connett spoke in Derby on his latest tour- his second visit in 6 months. All Derby city councillors were invited to both talks (atleast 50) and over the two talks just 4 councillors turned up ! but then if they dont hear the other side of the story by not attending they protect themselves- there are none so blind as those who do not want to see !
    Prof Connett was once again outstanding !

  3. Zero waste might be the long term goal we are all working towards but until then, an interim solution is required. This country still landfills millions of tonnes of waste. You can build recycling facilities, AD plants, give me the correct bins/boxes/bags and post a leaflet to them explaining how to recycle, but for the next 15 – 20 years at least, there will still be millions of tonnes of residual waste that needs managing. We can’t carry on landfilling it and building large incinerators is not a good idea – so what is the solution? (And please don’t say Zero Waste – we need something realistic in the medium term, not a long term aspirational goal)

  4. Of interest. Last month a select group of civil servants met.

    In Item 5 Joint EfW Project is was decided Points 12 i-iii that Defra/other departments felt they needed to con and hoodwink the Public better with regards getting guised incinerators through planning and permitting..more coordinated spin and PR (called “tools” now), more gloss via LGA/OGD media machines, more brown-to-green wash, carefully spun ministerial announcements and avoid the “Incinerator” word.

    Typical eh! They should have listened to Paul Connett for a few better ideas. Well I hope a few of them get it right one day, and scrap the incinerator master plan, put their “tools” back in the spin locker!


    ITEM 5
    Point 12.
    The board welcomed the project and efforts to clarify the role of energy from waste and in discussion made the following points:
    There would need to be careful handling of ministerial announcements. The public perception of energy from waste was often closely associated with incinerators and sometimes failed to recognise the advantages and technologies available.
    The LGA and OGD’s media teams should be kept informed of developments in order to ensure a co-ordinated approach to communication and joined up messages.
    It would be important to consider how EfW facilities can serve both municipal and commercial waste markets.

  5. Energy from waste is a general term, that doesn’t just refer to mass burn incineration. It can cover anaerobic digestion, gasification, pyrolysis. It is, as the name suggests, about recovering energy from waste.

  6. Bob Jnr..IMO, the correct EfW/CHP for residual MSW in the short-medium term are solely 2RoCs technology like MBT or MHT with Anaerobic Digestion where landfill supports; or plasma gasification/gasplasma for large cities like London where landfill /transportation emissions are problematic – for conversion into fuels. This essentially eliminates all combustion/incineration technogolies of MSW/RDF. Re: Eunomia technology/carbon report, Jan 2007.

    IMO the latter plasma technologies are valid at the small ecentralised module scale(though not Zero Waste philosophy), coming on stream-provenness, but should not be used for food waste, glass or metals or before mechanical recovery essence a goalkeeper technology of a limited 10-15% of difficult composite/historic waste.

    Certainly the concept of Zero Waste Recovery Parks, incorporating Anaerobic digestion of food waste and material reuse needs more does Paul Connett’s concept of Residual Screening and Research centres. I’ve seen little private/public investment movement in the UK towards the latter element..yet. A pity IMO, yet a reality.

  7. Rob, thanks for your reply. I certainly agree that MBT/MHT have a significant role to play but these are processes that generate in the region of 40 – 70% residues. In areas where landfill capacity is low, would you suggest we develop more landfill sites? Surely the recovery of energy from these resources through combustion/gasification is preferable to their landfill disposal? You also need to account for landfill tax at £72 per tonne, plus gate fee, haulage.

    Can you also point to a plasma gasification facility operating in Europe that is processing above 100,000 tonnes per annum of waste? I’m not aware of one.

  8. Thanks Bob Good questions raised.

    If one is going to capture valuable food waste to Anaerobic Digestion; the residual fraction % of MBT/MHT is likely down massively. This is key! Minimisation cutting this even further. Stabilised landfill from MBT/MHT/AD is mainly food/card- plastics metals glass are recovered in modern MBT/AD facility, so treated fraction to landfill will tend to about 20% ,with more front end recycling,recovery,anaerobic digestion- MBT/MBT facilities looking more like enhanced MRFs. LfT at the rate applies to unstabilised MSW, with a significantly lesser figure for CLO/quarry finisher.

    The current residual/recycling models have changed from 60:40 residual:recycling/comp, to 50:50 to now 40:60 in many WDA strategies, Wales 60;40; 70:30 in Scotland. Realistically we should be looking at 20:80 and better levels.

    Processing 100,000Tpa possibly is a confusing question/capacity as one might not desire this scale of facility as a decentralised model & network of small modules of 25,000Tpa-50,000Tpa might be far preferrable of in terms of scaleability/ flexibility/ difficult waste arisings and impact. Centralised larger capacity facilities might be undesireable in these terms. Indeed if one wanted to treat 100,000Tpa capacity one would scale up via 4x 25,000Tpa modules. So obviously you will be looking to Europlasma, Bordeaux 55,000Tpa x2 type modules for your scale up. One can look further afield to North American/Japan for other plants. But the question might be reversed whether one actually wants anything larger than the CHO-Power in Morcenx (built, April operation) size /or Ottawa, Canada for 10% difficult residual, perhaps a similar size AD facility for food waste at any one site. There is growing and large market interest in plasma technology throught about 20 suppliers globally (Juniper). Again any centralised Anaerobic Digestion facility of 100,000Tpa+ might be also undesirable too when Ludlow farm/industrial unit size (10,000-50,000Tpa) closer to waste producers/farmers are feasible.

  9. Thanks for your detailed reply. Yes, the key is the development of food waste treatment facilities, like AD plants, which can be especially difficult in urban areas. I personally don’t agree with some Councils in London collecting food waste and transporting it to Bedford. They should build an AD plant closer to where the food is collected. All waste should be managed as close to origin as possible.

  10. Yes I agree with your Bedford haulage concern; just as we in Norfolk fought the “apportioning” of London’s waste to the home counties like to Newhaven, or up to Landfill in Norfolk.

    Listening to Peter Jones last year I think the answer for London once it gets up to 75-80% diversion to resources, is to create via conversion transport fuels/gases via plasma gasification on a decentralised small plant scale at transport hubs (Heathrow/ Buses /Filling Stations). Obviously Greater London is without landfill so the MBT to CLO model doesn’t fit. Current haulage to Mucking and alike.


    Plasma Gasification of MSW is going from demonstation to proven designation (2yr requirement), gaining bankability; whereas the suggested concept of residual research screening facilities – linked to university bods are still on the drawing board, not even demonstrated.

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