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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/

On Thursday 7th December 2017 the London Assembly’s Environment Committee will be discussing issues relating to incineration as part of the Committee’s investigation into waste management in London.

Shlomo Dowen, the National Coordinator of the UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN), will be one of the guest attending the meeting. UKWIN has provided written evidence to the London Assembly showing how waste incineration harms recycling and why it is important that London adopts a moratorium on new waste incineration capacity.

The meeting, which starts at 2:30pm, will be open to the public and broadcast via the London Assembly website at https://www.london.gov.uk/media-centre/london-assembly

Commenting on his forthcoming attendance, Shlomo Dowen explained: “London has a great opportunity to be a global leader in sustainable waste management, but at the moment London’s recycling rates are suffering from the effects of incineration overcapacity. I am looking forward to discussing the future of London’s waste management with the Environment Committee, alongside exploring some of the problems caused by waste incineration”.

— NOTES —

  • The United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) is a network comprising more than 100 member groups who oppose waste incineration. UKWIN carries out research into the problems caused by waste incineration and the opportunities for more prudent resource use in line with the circular economy.
  • UKWIN opposes the incineration of waste, including via gasification and pyrolysis, because incineration depresses recycling, destroys valuable resources, releases greenhouse gasses, and is a waste of money. Incineration has no place in the zero waste closed-loop circular economy towards which we should be working.
  • UKWIN is currently calling for a UK-wide moratorium on new waste incineration capacity, in line with the Early Day Motion (EDM) 581. For more on EDM 581 see: http://ukwin.org.uk/bin
  • The Environment Committee is investigating London’s waste generation, handling and disposal. The investigation will build on earlier Committee work and identify recommendations to the Mayor. UKWIN’s July 2017 submission to the London Assembly’s Environment Committee is available from: http://ukwin.org.uk/files/pdf/July_2017_UKWIN_London_Assembly_Waste_Management_Submission.pdf

There is now more committed incineration capacity than genuinely residual waste to burn, so it is vital that we stop building more incinerators in the UK. The emissions, the impact on climate change, the harm to recycling and the fact it simply isn’t needed all make incineration an expensive folly that we can ill afford.

UKWIN is embarking on our most ambitious campaign yet! We are asking for your help. Please write to your MP asking them to support the call for a moratorium on new incineration capacity via http://ukwin.org.uk/bin/ and spread the word amongst your networks.

The UKWIN web page contains the wording of the proposed Early Day Motion (EDM) to be tabled at Parliament and four briefing documents that support the Motion, as well as a template you can use to e-mail your MP.

Thank you for your support!

Eunomia’s Residual Waste Infrastructure Review (12th Issue) is now available via: http://www.eunomia.co.uk/reports-tools/residual-waste-infrastructure-review-12th-issue/
The matter is covered by the BBC in an article entitled: Burning policy puts pressure on recycling targets available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40831628 which reports that:
Eunomia’s Dominic Hogg accused the government of withdrawing from waste and resources policy over the last seven years.
This has led, he says, to the rate of improvement in recycling slowing down, and then going into reverse in England.
Mr Hogg said: “The most significant changes in recent years have been the switch from landfilling of waste to incinerating it. This reflects a complete absence of ambition, and gives rise to costs that are not justified by the benefits.”
“Are we leaving the EU so that we can regain the tag of ‘the dirty man of Europe?’”
He pointed out that it used to appear environmentally beneficial to burn waste rather than coal. But now the UK’s energy stock is cleaner, incineration looks an increasingly dirty option.
According to Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of the UK Without Incineration Network:
“Most reports on residual waste treatment capacity are commissioned by companies with a financial stake in investment in new waste incineration capacity, whereas Eunomia’s reports are more independent.
“Eunomia’s latest report confirms that we will soon have more incineration capacity than residual waste. However, this understates the problem because much of what is currently described as ‘residual waste’ can actually be recycled or composted.
“We already have more incineration capacity than we will have genuinely residual waste to burn, and so have already reached ‘overcapacity’ in the UK. We need to be recycling our waste, not wasting millions of pounds building yet more incinerators that will be redundant in a Circular Economy.”

Long-term waste contracts are often the most expensive contracts a council ever signs, but residents are usually excluded from knowing the details of what has been agreed in their name. One route to obtain this information is through the use of Freedom of Information (FoI) and Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) requests, but in many cases the road to getting the information to which you are legally entitled is long and requires perseverance. Hats off to Derby campaigner Simon Bacon for sticking with the process, and obtaining a victory for transparency. His blog post has been reproduced below, and is used with permission. You can read the rest of his local reporting at: http://derby-waste-a-rubbish-blog.blogspot.co.uk.

Hidden contracts! the public strikes back!
http://derby-waste-a-rubbish-blog.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/hidden-contracts-public-strikes-back.html

On 22nd October 2015 I Simon Bacon the writer of this blog applied to Derby City Council in Derby UK via FOI / EIR requesting the following information relating to the controversial joint waste contract linked to the highly controversial Sinfin, Derby gasification incineration plant.

1- ALL CONTRACTS BETWEEN DERBY CITY COUNCIL AND DERBYSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL RELATING TO THE JOINT WASTE CONTRACT.
2- ALL CONTRACTS BETWEEN DERBY CITY COUNCIL AND ITS PARTNER DERBYSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL WITH RESOURCE RECOVERY SOLUTIONS (RRS) AND / OR ITS PARENT COMPANY SHANKS / INTERSERVE.
3- ALL CONTRACTS RELATING TO THE USE OF THE SINFIN TANNERY SITE – OWNED BY DERBY CITY COUNCIL BY RESOURCE RECOVERY SOLUTIONS (RRS) OR OTHER PARTIES.

Derby City Council responded on 17th December 2015 in which it disclosed some of the requested information but withheld some of the information in part 2 of the request claiming the adverse affect to the confidentiality of commercial information. What was provided was a series of documents with many redacted (blacked out pages) where the council and its supporters – Derbyshire County Council and Resource Recovery Solutions edited the documents to hide certain aspects of the documents which they did not want the public to see.


Here are a couple of examples from schedule 14 of the contract which covers the performance mechanism.

As you can see from the images when they redact information they really black it out!

I appealed this ruling and Derby City Council carried out an internal review and responded to me on December 24th 2015 that it maintained this position.

Having considered this battle of wills further I made a complaint against Derby City Council on 22nd February 2016 to the ICO – the Information Commissioner. The ICO then gave full consideration to my strongly put appeal while engaging with Derby City Council further.

The council and its fellow contract members attempted to paint a picture which included impacts on interests of Resource Recovery Solutions (RRS) siting that the withheld information included price mechanisms, volume allocations and proprietary contract tools and processes.

The council argued that RRS operated in a competitive waste market and disclosure would allow competitors to work out the deal and how it was structured resulting in a loss of its competitive edge.
The council went on to argue that the Sinfin waste site’s novel nature has the capacity to become a “BEACON OF EXCELLENCE”

ENERGOS the developer of the incineration equipment being installed into this beacon of excellence had gone into administration in mid July 2016.

It was suggested that the competitors of RRS would benefit from the unique know how contained within the information and thus undermine the ability of RRS to utilise this for its own benefit damaging its commercial interests.

Other than the Derby, Glasgow and Milton Keynes projects that have moved ahead there is little evidence of other projects moving forward using such technology and in recent weeks a proposal to install similar tech on the Isle of Wight has been dropped – so not quite the beacon being suggested.

The ICO asked the council to provide a new schedule setting out in each instance the councils rationale for withholding information so that it matched the specific parts of the documents. Having been given further time to do so the council advised it had approached RRS and Derbyshire County Council but that they had declined to provide any further arguments or clarification.

The ICO in their ruling considered that the lack of clarity in the councils submissions suggests that the council either does not properly understand what the effects of disclosure would be or has struggled to meet the evidential and explanatory burden set by the exception.

On 4th August 2016 the Information commissioner at the ICO RULED IN MY FAVOUR instructing Derby City Council to disclose the withheld information to myself as the complainant.

In early September 2016 Derby City Council was in no mood to lose their battle against a resident of Derby so instructed its legal team to appeal the ICO ruling and so work started on a legal appeal.

I as the original applicant was also in no mood to lose the battle and so registered as a party to the appeal which WAS set to be heard later in 2017 in London UK. After a delay of a number of months as two similar cases passed through the tribunal system the Derby case began to move forward.

In recent months a similar case relating to an incineration plant in Gloucestershire and its associated contract pretty much ruled in the original applicants favour – while the council in that case attempted to put a brave face on things while putting some spin on the ruling the applicants in Gloucestershire are very happy with the result of their battle. A similar ruling regarding an incineration plant contract in Worcestershire also placed pressure on Derby City Council who were then set a date by the General Regulatory Chamber who were running the appeal by Derby City Council where the council had to acknowledge if it proposed to continue with their appeal.
So two other appeals went against the local councils which forced Derby City Council into a corner over their appeal against the ICO ruling.
Did they continue or did they rollover!

THEY ROLLED OVER AND BAILED OUT OF THEIR APPEAL ON MAY 11TH 2017

The councils legal team made the following statements when terminating the councils appeal.

“Our clients have been carrying out a fresh, detailed, careful and considered review of the disputed information with all interested parties taking into account the passage of time and developments since the initial request and the commencement of the Appeal.

Having concluded that reassessment and made recommendations accordingly, the interested parties have respectively reached agreed conclusions and advised the relevant public authority which has been able to make an updated decision on disclosure as a result.

Our clients have invested a great deal of time in reaching this decision and it is not one that has been taken lightly. Despite considering that much of the disputed information remains commercially sensitive and confidential, given the time that has now passed since the original request for information by the applicant and taking into consideration the current stage the facilities are now at, the likelihood of probable harm from disclosure of the disputed information into the public domain has reduced.

As a result our clients have asked us to confirm that the disputed information will be disclosed in its entirety.”

Derby City Council admitted at a recent full council meeting that they and their supporters – Derbyshire County Council and RRS / SHANKS had already spent £20,000 on their fight to keep aspects of the Derby and Derbyshire waste contract secret – hidden away from the public. In a strange twist they appeared to be suggesting to the local newspaper the Derby Telegraph that they had NOT paid £20,000 to stop me from gaining a copy of the contracts as reported here http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/derby-man-wins-right-to-see-controversial-sinfin-incinerator-contract-but-council-to-appeal/story-30288364-detail/story.html

The council was simply playing with words – £20,000 was spent but the city council only paid a third of the payment!

What are they trying to hide from the residents of Derby and Derbyshire ? what is so controversial that they redact whole pages of their waste contract ? In these times of austerity and government cuts surely the public have a right to know what their taxes are being spent on.

NOW WE HAVE THE CHANCE TO FIND OUT!

©SIMON BACON 2017

Tributes were paid to Mick (left) and Jeff (right), beloved members of the anti-incineration community.

On Saturday 3rd June 2017 the UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) received an Earthmovers Award for Outstanding Community Campaign from Friends of the Earth (FoE) at Basecamp, which is FoE’s annual environmental festival .

Accepting the award, UKWIN National Coordinator Shlomo Dowen said: “Over the past decade UKWIN has been blessed with hundreds of dedicated, passionate and conscientious volunteers, who have made a real difference in their communities. I dedicate this award to all of UKWIN’s worthy volunteers, and pay special tribute to two of them.” Continue reading »

Press release from Zero Waste Europe

Zero Waste Europe welcomes the ENVI committee’s draft report on the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive. This report represents a first important step towards the alignment of EU energy and circular economy policies, by excluding financial support for incineration of mixed municipal solid waste. Continue reading »

UKWIN has obtained the full set of Annual Incinerator Monitoring Reports for 2016 from the Environment Agency (EA). These reports are produced by the operators of these facilities and then passed on to the EA. These reports are available from UKWIN’s archive of Annual Incinerator Performance Reports and Permits

In an accompanying e-mail message to UKWIN the EA helpfully noted that:

“This contains the annual reports and annual reporting forms for all of the municipal and biomass waste incinerators which were fully operational for the whole of 2016. In many cases the annual reporting forms have been incorporated into the annual reports and in some cases they are separate, but hopefully this will contain all the information you need.

“Feel free to circulate the link as you see fit but please note that not all of the annual reports will yet have been checked by the local inspectors and so may contain errors or omissions which will be picked up once they are reviewed (and then we can update the data set later this year). In the meantime though please do let me know if there is any information that you think it missing or which may be incorrect, and I will follow it up.”

If there is anything you wish to draw to UKWIN’s attention regarding these reports, please e-mail: coordinator@ukwin.org.uk

UKWIN notes that in addition to greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change, incinerators (including gasification and pyrolysis plants) emit many toxins and pollutants, giving rise to public health concerns. Although incinerator fumes pass through expensive filter systems, modern incinerators still emit significant levels of dioxins, NOx and ultrafine particles that can be harmful to both human health and the natural environment.

Dioxins are a group of chemicals that are carcinogenic and act as endocrine disruptors. Dioxin emission levels from incinerators are typically measured twice a year by external assessors who have to give prior notice of their visits, so operators can ensure that a plant is running under optimal conditions for that visit. Even then, where problems are detected they are often blamed on unrepresentative samples or poorly calibrated equipment and are re-run. The assumption is not typically made that non-breech readings could be untrue and need to be re-run, so there is a bias towards under-reporting emissions breaches. Where more frequent or continuous measurements are made, total dioxin emissions have been found to be very much higher than those calculated from biannual measurements [De Fre and Wevers 1998 & Reinmann et al 2006].

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