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In their summary of responses to the ‘Tackling the plastic problem’ call for evidence, the Government has announced that they are considering an incineration tax to be announced at the forthcoming budget in November. Continue reading »

New UKWIN report launched 17th July 2018 at the House of Lords. The Report, ‘Waste Incineration and Particulate Pollution: A Failure of Governance’ launched in the House of Lords with cross-party support from John Grogan MP (Labour), Philip Davies MP (Conservative), and Lord Tyler (Liberal Democrat Peer).

The documents are available in electronic format from http://ukwin.org.uk/bin/ as follows:

The report reveals:

  • Incinerators exceed pollution reporting thresholds for particulates, but do due to a loophole the public is not informed of particulate emissions;
  • Levels of emissions of harmful particulate matter and NOx and associated costs to society; and
  • A lack of regulation, with official guidance ignored.

The report shows that particulate matter released by English incinerators in 2017 is equivalent to particulate matter emitted by more than a quarter of a million 40-tonne lorries travelling 75,000 miles a year, and the NOx emissions released by English incinerators in 2017 equate to around 80,000 lorries travelling 75,000 miles a year.

The report calls for:

  • The development and implementation of accurate systems to measure particulate matter released by incinerators, accompanied by proper enforcement;
  • Stricter control of PM1 emissions;
  • The introduction of an incineration tax; and
  • A moratorium on new waste incineration capacity.

What has been said about the report:
Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of the UK Without Incineration Network, said: “For decades incinerators in England have been emitting significant quantities of pollution and greenhouse gasses. There is a substantial cost to society associated with these harmful emissions. This cost should be met by incinerator operators in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Operators should also be required to be more transparent about their emissions and to do more to monitor and control the pollution they cause.”

John Grogan MP said: “The case for a tax on waste Incineration to mirror the Landfill Tax and for a moratorium on new incinerators is now very strong.”

Philip Davies MP said: “Incinerators are being foisted on local communities right across the country and yet the damage that they cause to the local environment is not fully known. There really needs to be a suspension on new incinerators until there is better information available.”

Lord Tyler said: “Clean air is vital to health but the Government seems unconcerned about adequately monitoring the emissions from incinerators and has allowed this monitoring loop hole to go unchecked. We must tighten up monitoring procedures and fully investigate the impact before allowing any further incinerators to be built.

Photograph showing some of the attendees at the launch at the House of Lords on 17th July 2018

UKWIN’s new report will be launched at the House of Lords from 10:30am on Tuesday 17th July 2018!

For a copy of Waste Incineration and Particulate Pollution: ‘A Failure of Governance’ see: http://ukwin.org.uk/bin/ from 10:30am on Tuesday.

The Government’s consultation ‘Tackling the plastic problem: Using the tax system or charges to address single-use plastic waste’ closed yesterday. Commenting on the consultation the exchequer secretary Robert Jenrick has been quoted in The Times as stating that: “A number of submissions have advocated a tax on the incineration of waste. There is an argument for changing the incentives to discourage putting further waste to incineration. We would like to see less plastic incinerated, sent to landfill or exported and more recycled.”

Reacting to this, Shlomo Dowen, the National Coordinator of the United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN), said: “It is a scandal that for so many years the public has effectively been subsiding the incineration of recyclable and avoidable plastics. The introduction of a tax on the incineration of plastic is long overdue. Such a tax would mean the price of incineration would more closely reflect the climate cost to society of burning these fossil fuels. UKWIN welcomes the news that the Government is considering such a tax which would send a clear signal that we should be shifting investment away from incineration towards reduction, reuse and recycling.”

UKWIN views an incineration tax as a sensible measure to encourage the investment in collection, sorting, education and processing needed to boost recycling, and to discourage the incineration of materials that would be recycled if the appropriate infrastructure were in place.

A new study, published in the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, raises serious concerns about the safety of treating mixed waste via gasification.

The academic paper, written by gasification expert Dr. Andrew N. Rollinson, is entitled ‘Fire, explosion and chemical toxicity hazards of gasification energy from waste’. The article highlights the hazards of gasification and discusses relevant historic incidents and underappreciated engineering fundamentals that indicate that gasification of mixed waste can be significantly more risky than conventional incineration.

Gasification hazards identified by Dr. Rollinson include: flammable, toxic, and corrosive gas mixtures; the auto-ignition of stored feedstocks; multiple explosive atmospheres due to both over-pressure and under-pressure; and heightened risk at times of start-up, shut-down or during testing.

The paper identifies how these risks are made worse by a widespread lack of stakeholder understanding, a desire to operate at high outputs, and a reluctance to learn lessons from decades of unsuccessful attempts to operate gasification on a mixed waste feedstock.

The study concludes that: “If the waste industry is to avoid further process losses, it must learn from the lessons of gasification history and the lessons of risk assessment developed through major chemical process accidents of the past. At present however, risk is being aggravated by a reluctance to disclose or address these failures, preferences for novelty, a lack of stakeholder understanding, and a desire to operate beyond technological capabilities”.

Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of the UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN), commented on the implications of this research, stating: “This is a valuable contribution to the available literature that should be required reading for anyone interested in, or indeed making decisions about, waste gasification technologies. From UKWIN’s perspective, the risks associated with gasification are not worth taking because gasification and other forms of incineration destroy valuable resources that should be re-used or recycled as part of our move towards a more sustainable and circular economy”.

The paper is published in Volume 54 of the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, July 2018 (doi.org/10.1016/j.jlp.2018.04.010) and is available electronically from https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1X0cq3O6UQP6UB or
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950423018301323

Dr. Andrew Neil Rollinson PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons), AFHEA, MRSC is a research engineer at Loughborough University. For more information about Dr. Rollinson see his profile at: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/abce/staff/andrew-neil-rollinson/

 

On Wednesday evening 21st March 2018 UKWIN received the David & Goliath Award from the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) as part of the 2018 National Campaigner Awards ceremony. Continue reading »

As part of their investigation into Waste Management in London, the London Assembly’s Environment Committee has published a damning report into Energy from Waste which calls for strong action from the London Mayor to tackle the issue of recyclable and compostable material being sent for incineration.

The report states that: “London must begin to limit not only the amount but also the type of waste it sends to Energy from Waste (EfW)…EfW burns recyclable materials that could be used within the circular economy. Burning recyclable materials perpetuates our linear economy model of take-make-dispose and further depletes our natural resources”. The report adds that, to improve London’s air quality, it is “essential that London burns less organic and plastic waste”.

The United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) provided evidence to the inquiry and are quoted in its report. Commenting on the Committee’s findings the UKWIN National Coordinator Shlomo Dowen, stated that: “We hope London’s Mayor follows the Assembly’s advice and does everything he can to prevent more incinerators being built in London. The Mayor should also work harder to ensure London’s existing incinerators are not burning such high volumes of recyclable and compostable material. London has an exciting opportunity to be a truly Zero Waste city, and the first step is to realise that incinerators are a relic of the outdated linear system that should be consigned to the dustbin of history”.

Further reading:

Prof. Ian Boyd appeared before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRACOM) on the 31st of January 2018 to discuss his work as Defra Chief Scientific Adviser.

Professor Boyd was one of the principal author’s of the recently-published ‘From Waste to Resource Productivity’ report which emphasised the importance of moving away from incineration and landfill and towards more efficient and sustainable uses of resources. This report will provide an important part of the evidence base for the Government’s forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy, due out in the second half of 2018.

You can listen to Prof. Ian Boyd speak critically about incineration from around from 15:17:12 at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/9c6b4590-5882-4464-a945-29783d4af339

Prof. Boyd explains how: “If there is one way of extinguishing the value of the materials fast, its to stick it in an incinerator and burn it. Now it may give you energy at the end of the day, but actually some of those materials, even if they are plastics, with a little bit of ingenuity, can be given more positive value. And one of the things that worries me is that we are taking these materials, we’re putting them in incinerators, we’re losing them forever, and actually we’re creating carbon dioxide out of them as well, which is not a great thing, when in fact we could be long-term storing them until we have the innovative technologies to re-use them and to turn them into something that is more positively valued. And this brings me to a more general point about landfill… landfill is actually a very low marginal-cost method for storing materials – highly resistant materials such as plastics and metals – for a long period of time. If we cannot extract the value from them now, so one caveat I would put around the current direction of travel on landfill, is that we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that in a few decades time, or maybe a bit longer, we might be mining our landfill sites for the resources they contain, and rather than put some of those resources into incinerators and just lose them forever we might want to think differently about the landfill sites.” (15:17:12)

He later stated: “I think that incineration, and this is a personal view, I think incineration is not a good direction to go in. I think that if you are investing many tens of millions, hundreds of millions, in urban waste incineration plants – and those plants are going to have a 30 to 40 year lifespan – you have to have the waste streams to keep them supplied. Now that is the market pull on waste, so it encourages the production of waste, it encourages the production of residual waste, it encourages people to think that we can throw what could be potentially valuables materials if we were to think about them innovatively into a furnace and burn them.” (15:20:50)

Boyd also cited how Sweden’s pursuit of incineration may have encouraged the production of residual waste and he explained how historic UK waste policy encouraging incineration over landfill may have created perverse outcomes.

EFRACOM’s Chair Neil Parish MP compared incineration with diesel as an option that was once promoted as being environmentally friendly but that is now being seen increasingly as a mis-step that is bad for the environment.

Later in the discussion, Prof. Boyd indicated that an incineration tax and a moratorium on new incinerators were worth considering as means to promote recycling alongside investing in innovative recycling processes and ‘designing out’ waste as part of a holistic approach to resource management.

Concerns about incineration were expressed by respected waste figures at a Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar on “Priorities for UK waste and recycling policy and developing the circular economy” that took place in London.

Around two hundred delegates gathered on Thursday, 18th January 2018 to hear MPs and speakers from across the resources and waste sector discussing key issues and next steps in the move towards a more circular economy.

Speakers expressed a general consensus that, through a combination of local actions and national policy interventions, significantly higher rates of recycling are both achievable and desirable.

WRAP CEO Dr Marcus Gover pointed out that if all local authorities collected the same materials for recycling then more would be recycled, and CIWM Chief Executive Dr Colin Church issued a rallying call saying: “We need to remove non-recyclable packaging from the market, whether by voluntary action or Government regulation”. Dr Church emphasised how we need to do something about the recycling market to ensure that there is a demand for material that we don’t want to ‘design out’ so that “it is not burned or buried”.

When asked about waste incineration overcapacity Dr Liz Goodwin, the Chair of the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), agreed that avoiding incineration overcapacity is a consideration that should be taken into account when planning for a more circular economy. She also expressed a view that London has a role in hardwiring the circular economy locally, including minimising ioncineraiton, to act as an inspiration for the rest of the UK.

The event’s keynote speaker was Dr Lee Davies, Defra’s Head of Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy. Dr Davies delivered a presentation on the Government’s future priorities for resources and waste policy. He highlighted the importance of treating waste as a resource, and he explained how the forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy will build on the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, Industrial Strategy, and 25-year Environment Plan.

When asked by Shlomo Dowen, the National Coordinator of the UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) how much potentially recyclable or compostable is currently incinerated he replied: “Too much!”. Dr Davies went on to explain how product redesign was central to improving resource productivity and addressing the problem of hard-to-recycle products.

Dr Davies confirmed the Government’s intention to release the Resources and Waste Strategy sometime during 2018.

UKWIN ‘live Tweeted’ the event via its Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/ukwin_network

In a heavy-hitting 15-page submission to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), UKWIN calls for the NIC’s investigation into infrastructure capacity requirements to accept that we have reached the end of the line when it comes to building new incineration capacity in the UK. Continue reading »

UKWIN’s National Coordinator Shlomo Dowen is one of several ‘anti-incineration’ and ‘pro Zero Waste’ nominees for Resource Magazine’s Hot 100 award.

For details on the nominees and instructions for voting please visit http://hot100.resource.co/ or vote for Shlomo directly via http://hot100.resource.co/nominee/shlomo-dowen

NOTE: You are entitled to vote for multiple nominees, you just need to vote for one at a time.

Please support UKWIN by voting for Shlomo Dowen!

A couple of UKWIN’s recent activities:

  • UKWIN has been running its ‘Bin the Burners’ campaign calling on the Government to ban new incinerators. On the 22nd of November MP John Grogan and a host of cross-bench co-sponsors tabled Early Day Motion 581 which calls for a moratorium on new waste incineration capacity. Since then a number of additional MPs have signed, and if your MP has not done so yet then you could write them a letter. For details on how to support this campaign (including a ‘write to your MP’ service, complete with template e-mail message) please visit: http://ukwin.org.uk/bin
  • On Thursday the 7th of December Shlomo gave evidence to the London Assembly about problems with waste incineration. UKWIN’s written evidence is available from http://ukwin.org.uk/files/pdf/July_2017_UKWIN_London_Assembly_Waste_Management_Submission.pdf

Of course, UKWIN also continues to:

If you would like to support UKWIN’s work with a donation, please visit: http://ukwin.org.uk/donate/

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