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Circular Economy Quotes

Governmental Sources

Professor Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:
If there is one way of quickly extinguishing the value in a material, it is to stick it in an incinerator and burn it. It may give you energy out at the end of the day, but some of those materials, even if they are plastics, with a little ingenuity, can be given more positive value. One thing that worries me is that we are taking these materials, we are putting them in incinerators, we are losing them forever and we are creating carbon dioxide out of them, which is not a great thing...I think that incineration is not a good direction to go in.

Parliamentary Sources

London Assembly Environment Committee:
Burning waste takes materials out of the circular economy...

European Union Sources

Waste Framework Directive Experts' Group:
Too much reliance on "quick-fix" solutions to increase their capacity to pre-treat mixed waste, such as expanding MBT or mixed waste incineration capacity, would be at odds with and undermine more long-term solutions guided by circular economy thinking and the waste hierarchy. Thus, particular attention should be paid to rolling out separate collection and recycling (in particular for municipal of bio-waste) and waste prevention (including of food waste).

European Environment Agency:
One of the central pillars of a circular economy is feeding materials back into the economy and avoiding waste being sent to landfill or incinerated, thereby capturing the value of the materials as far as possible and reducing losses.

European Environment Agency:
While energy recovered through incineration can partly compensate for (fossil) fuel use, incineration is to be minimised, as the energy from incineration can be used only once and thus removes materials from the loop.

William Neale, member of cabinet for European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik with responsibility for waste.:
We have to have a circular economy concept, so it’s highly important that we’re pumping back materials into the economy rather than burning or burying them.

Janez Potočnik European Commissioner for Environment:
...unlimited growth on a limited planet means that this linear approach will inevitably lead to scarcity, price-volatility, supply disruptions and pricing levels that are unaffordable for our economy’s industrial base. This is particularly problematic for Europe, where we are heavily import dependent for our materials. The answer is, instead of burying or burning those materials at the end of their life, to pump them back into the economy.

Academic Sources

Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Dr. Enzo Favoino, et. al.:
WTE facilities are not the best environmental option for managing leftover waste and they are not a bridge to a Zero Waste future, as claimed by the WTE industry.

Other Sources

Libby Peake, senior policy adviser at resources think tank Green Alliance:
Years of neglecting the top options - recycling, reuse and, most importantly, reduction - are starting to take their toll. Most waste isn't an inevitability, but a failure of our current linear economy. Focusing exclusively on diverting material from landfill (in most instances into incineration) represents only a marginal improvement and risks detracting attention from the larger structural changes that will be required to make the economy more sustainable.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation:
Landfill, incineration, and waste-to-energy are not part of the circular economy target state

Ellen MacArthur Foundation:
Today’s recycling processes are typically ‘loose’ or long cycles that reduce material utility to its lowest 'nutrient' level. This is even more true for the incineration of waste. In a circular economy, by contrast, reverse activities in the circular economy will extend across an array of circles for repair and refurbishment of products, and remanufacturing of technical components. Likewise, the reverse chain for biological nutrients returns those back to the biosphere via composting and anaerobic digestion.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation:
Today, ‘reverse cycles’ are significantly impaired by...leakage from the system through subsidised incineration...

Further reading