The recently published report ‘Ever-Decreasing Circles: Closing in on the Circular Economy‘, produced collaboratively by RWM Ambassadors, has called for a review of the potential for an incineration tax amongst other measures.

According to the CIWM press release: “A new report focused on achieving a circular economy is published today [11th September 2014] by the RWM Ambassadors – a selection of leading industry figures from the business supply chain, retail and waste management industry, plus public sector and academic representatives. The panel, together with the team from RWM, Europe’s premier event for resource management, has been discussing and identifying the key waste and resource efficiency issues and possible solutions. Today’s report attempts to identify the key questions to provoke debate on the measures that will be needed to move the UK towards a circular economy.”

Page 7 of the report includes a graphic that categorises incineration as a “leakage to be minimised” within the context of the circular economy.

Page 9 goes one better, stating that: “To provide the right framework to underpin future progress [towards a circular economy], it will be essential for policy makers to have a better understanding of how these incentives interact. A thorough review could include, for example, consideration of the potential for: …

  • 2) taxing ash residues from incineration at the standard rate of tax, partly as means to stimulate extraction of precious metals from ash; …
  • 3) introducing taxes on incineration and MBT, with a view to further incentivising movement of waste up the hierarchy. [such a tax might also be applied to waste which is prepared for export for incineration, with imports being exempt ]; …” (text in square brackets in the original)

Page 20 unsurprisingly echoes the message UKWIN gave to EFRACOM that: “As it is now in Scotland and proposed in Northern Ireland, the separate collection of food waste could be made mandatory for both households and for all businesses producing an amount of food waste above a specific threshold”. Separate collection of biomass is part of the Circular Economy Package recently proposed by the European Commission, alongside other measures such as 70% recycling.

The recommendation for a review into measures to control incineration are consistent with a July 2014 briefing paper produced by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) which, as UKWIN has previously reported, recommended that: “the Treasury should launch a consultation on how incineration can be reduced most effectively”, and advised that: “The terms of reference should include an examination of the costs and benefits of introducing fiscal incentives to reduce incineration, introducing regulations to ban the incineration of specific materials, and doing nothing”.

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