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