Local campaigners opposing the ~600ktpa incinerator at Rookery Pit in Bedfordshire wish to make people aware of an opportunity to listen to Paul Connett and Jane Green speak about incineration and Zero Waste on the 3rd of June 2013:
It is that time again. Time to make people aware of the United Kingdom Without Incineration Network’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The theme for this year is “Mainstreaming the message: Publicising our perspective and celebrating our campaign victories”. Previous UKWIN themes include: “Zero waste to burn, zero time to waste” and “Campaigning positively against incineration”.
Recently released HMRC Figures show that the amount of solid waste recorded as being taxed at the Standard Rate of Landfill Tax has fallen from 52.465 million tonnes in the 2001 calendar year to 18.987 million tonnes in 2012. Generally speaking, the Standard Rate of Landfill Tax covers non-inert (‘active’) solid waste (municipal, commercial and industrial).
According to Environment Agency data published by letsrecycle.com, the quantity of RDF received from the UK increased from 272,000 tonnes in 2011 to 892,900 tonnes in 2012. This is roughly equivalent to a rise from 0.36 million to 1.2 million tonnes of waste, as it takes around 1.33 tonnes of waste to produce 1 tonne of RDF due to water loss.
The environmental documentary “Trashed” was shown to about 150 people, including many MPs, anti-incineration campaigners and journalists at a special showing at the House of commons on 7th February 2013. The screening was hosted by actor Jeremy Irons and MP Zac Goldsmith, and the film was followed by a Question and Answer session that also featured Professor Vyvyan Howard.
Provisional information on Local Authority Collected Waste is out for April to June 2012 (Quarter 1 of 2012/13). Final data is scheduled to be released in November 2013.
In Trashed, an environmental documentary, Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons explores the world’s most environmentally polluted places to reveal the extent our rubbish is affecting us and our planet. In a recent Guardian interview, Jeremy asked viewers to research whether there is an incinerator proposed for their area “and, if there is, to oppose it”.
According to MRW, in a recent interview with Biffa CEO Ian Wakelin and MRW’s Neil Roberts, Wakelin stated: “…Biffa would not be investing heavily in large scale EfW incineration plants…because there was no need for it with the capacity already planned in the UK and Europe”.
In line with WRAP’s research which warned against moving from landfill to incineration, the Chief Executive of WRAP Liz Goodwin has warned against incineration overcapacity.
Eunomia Research & Consulting was engaged by Atlantic Energy on behalf of the Cornwall Waste Forum (CWF) to examine a number of questions regarding waste treatment in Cornwall. Cornwall’s current waste (PFI) contract was signed with Sita in 2006. Eunomia carried out an independent study that considers whether there may be a practicable and more affordable alternative to Cornwall Council’s current waste management arrangements.
Eunomia’s Assessing the feasibility of an alternative plan for Waste Management in Cornwall report reaches some powerful conclusions, notably that the Cornwall PFI contract has been found to have two significant problems, that also appear to apply to other Waste PFI contracts:
[The Cornwall Waste PFI contract] is outdated and not fit for purpose. Due to its origins in analysis conducted in the late 1990s, it no longer reflects the policy, legislative and technology context of waste management. For example, it does not identify food waste as a separate waste stream, and does not apply current guidance on how food waste should be collected and treated. This presents a level of legal risk to the council, which is obliged by law to apply the waste hierarchy in its approach to waste management.
[The Cornwall Waste PFI] is expensive. Based on credible estimates of SITA’s charges, the contract appears to offer very poor value for money. We estimate that the contract currently costs the council around £28m per year, and that this will rise in future. The total cost is estimated at £647m (in real terms) from 2012/13 through to the contract’s end. Our modelling shows that by exiting the contract, more than half of this cost might be avoided…
…Cornwall Council, in common with other local authorities, faces severe constraints on its budget and must look closely at the value for money it achieves in all of the services it delivers. Reviewing the contract with SITA could present a significant opportunity for the council to identify savings. Changing its approach to waste has the potential to deliver major savings without a reduction in the services delivered to local residents. Indeed, it would open up possibilities such as separate food waste collection and improved recycling rates. There is a strong case for a thorough review of the SITA contract, which could help relieve budgetary pressure on other areas of council services.
In their Report Summary Eunomia explain that their review did not set out to identify an optimum approach to waste management in Cornwall, but rather focussed on a comparison of the estimated costs of the current approach with the costs the council might expect to incur if it made various changes to its arrangements.
The scale of the potential saving identified by Eunomia is dramatic, and they explain that this is in large part because of the charge of over £50 per tonne it appears that the contract specifies for receiving and processing recyclable materials. This charge is set to rise in the future and is already very high by the standards of the current market. Eunomia found that overall costs could be reduced by an average of £10m per year by simply diverting recyclable materials out of the PFI contract and onto the open market.
The study also found that exiting the contract entirely and not building SITA’s planned incinerator would save even more – over £20m per year on waste management, although offset somewhat by additional collection costs.
[quote] In the context of such significant savings, the risks and costs that the council has identified as likely to be incurred in leaving the contract, though unpalatable, are relatively small compared with the potential savings of over £320m in net present value terms over the period through to 2036/37. The costs include likely penalty payments to SITA stated by the council to be up to £80m, combined with the loss of some £45m of PFI credits. Few would dispute the council’s view that there is a need to divert more of Cornwall’s waste from landfill. However, there do appear to be better options than the approach envisaged under the PFI contract and the view that the SITA incinerator should be progressed immediately as there is no realistic alternative seems overstated. [end quote]
Speaking on behalf of Cornwall Waste Forum, St Dennis Branch, Chairman Ken Rickard said: “We began our campaign because of our concerns about the impact on the environment and health of Cornwall, and our immediate community if an incinerator was built in St Dennis. Over time we have found out more about the complex subject of waste management and become convinced that Cornwall Council boxed themselves into a corner when negotiating the PFI contract with SITA. This has not offered value for money, or taken into consideration the huge changes taking place in waste disposal approaches elsewhere in the country. Councillors have understandably asked for evidence, which we have now provided and it is their responsibility to look into this contract and question waste treatment and disposal policy”.
Atlantic Energy’s Charmian Larke, technical advisor, who was involved in commissioning the report, continues: “This is no longer just about incineration, although our objections stand; it is about the validity of Cornwall Council’s waste management policy and the urgent need for Councillors and Cornwall Council’s Chief Executive to finally get a grip on the runaway costs of the disposal contract. By refusing to consider Cornwall Waste Forum’s alternative suggestions which include separate food waste collection with anaerobic digestion and automated residual waste sorting, the Council has refused to consider options which could save £ hundreds of millions. This is clearly unacceptable. We now have clear independent evidence which must make every Councillor sit up and interrogate waste management in Cornwall more fully. These findings are in fact good news. The case for reviewing waste management is persuasive and the savings a real opportunity for Cornwall Council to take pressure off other budgets. An example of savings is that Cornwall Council is paying over £50/tonne to dispose of valuable dry recycling which has an average resale value of up to £40 per tonne – so SITA are getting paid twice!”
The National Assembly for Wales Petitions Committee have produced a report entitled ‘The Incineration of Waste’, which includes the following recommendations to the Welsh Government: