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Recycling Quotes

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Recycling quotes from 2020

Governmental Sources

Rebecca Pow, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:
On taxing incinerators…if the wider policies set out in the resources and waste strategy do not deliver our waste ambitions, as laid out in the Environment Bill and the strategy, including higher recycling rates, the Government outlined in the 2018 Budget that we will consider introducing a tax on the incineration of waste, operating in conjunction with the landfill tax and taking account of the possible impact on local authorities.

Rebecca Pow, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:
I want to set the record straight: as my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes) highlighted, our focus as a Government ​is on “reduce, reuse, recycle”. We are sticking to that, as well as to the drive towards an ever more circular economy, which many Members touched on. That means extracting maximum value from our resources, then recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of their lifespan. Through that, we seek to minimise the amount of waste that goes to incineration or landfill, which certainly are at the bottom of the waste chain...Policies aimed at diverting waste away from landfill mean that, in addition to recycling gains, the volume of waste being treated at energy-from-waste plants has increased. Of course, however, the aim with all the measures in the waste and recycling strategy is to bring that down.

Official/Statutory Adviser to the Government Sources

the Committee on Climate Change:
More local authority waste is now incinerated for energy than recycled or composted in England. In 2018 there were 6.8 MtCO2e/year of emissions arising from the use of waste for power and heat (mostly energy from waste incineration plants), a doubling in emissions since 2013. Plants under construction and those granted planning permission could add a further 10 MtCO2e/year.

the Committee on Climate Change:
What needs to happen to deliver the sixth carbon budget and be on track for Net Zero? The CCC’s recommended Sixth Carbon Budget pathway sees a reduction in waste due to improvements in recycling, a phase-out of biogenic waste going to landfill and carbon capture and storage installed on both new and existing energy-from-waste facilities. In particular: ...Reductions in waste and ramping up recycling rates. Recycling rates (recycling, anaerobic digestion (AD) and composting) need to rise to 70% across UK by 2030 (and by 2025 in Scotland and Wales). Total waste arisings should be reduced by up to 33% by 2037 from baseline projections, through improved product design, light-weighting & standards, asset sharing & repair, deposit return schemes and extended producer responsibilities. Household edible food waste should be reduced by 50% by 2030 (reaching 46kg per person) and 60% by 2050, compared to 2007 levels, and similar % reduction targets should be achieved by the commercial food sector.

the Committee on Climate Change:
Key policy changes needed: ...Banning biodegradable waste from landfill from 2025 is a priority, and should be achieved via prevention, reuse and recycling, not via more energy-from-waste.

the Committee on Climate Change:
England should target 68% recycling by 2030 – household, commercial and industrial shares of this are achievable.

the Committee on Climate Change:
Northern Ireland should target 70% recycling across all wastes by 2030. Evidence from WRAP shows ‘it is possible to achieve and surpass a municipal recycling rate of 65% in Northern Ireland well before the target date of 2035’, with non-household municipal sectors potentially achieving over 80%

the Committee on Climate Change:
Energy-from-waste emissions continue to grow, but need to be constrained by waste prevention, re-use and recycling, and over time further mitigated via carbon capture and storage. EfW fossil GHG emissions in 2018 were 5.3 MtCO2e/year. Achieving the Balanced Pathway will require waste prevention, re-use and recycling efforts to keep EfW emissions approximately flat over time (between 5-6 MtCO2e/year) before CCS starts being retrofitted to plants...– For those plants not yet under construction, new energy-from-waste plants (and plant expansions) should only be constructed in areas confirmed to soon have CO2 infrastructure available, and should be built 'CCS ready' or with CCS.

Parliamentary Sources

Dr Alan Whitehead, Shadow Minister - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Energy and Climate Change:
There is a temptation to try to resolve the problems in a local area by going into partnership with a waste company. That may produce a solution to the local waste disposal problems, but it will do so at the cost of a 20, 30 or even 40-year contract that will fix the future policy of that local authority or consortium of local authorities. It is imperative to recognise that to move up the waste hierarchy nationally, we need the resources to get away from incineration...we need to ensure that local authorities have the resources to enable them to move up the waste hierarchy without being subject to the temptation of using large incinerators to solve their problems.

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Environment and Climate Change:
I believe that we should not send waste to incinerators...Recovering energy from waste produces more carbon emissions than burning gas...The more incineration plants are built in this country, the less likely we are to achieve our [recycling] target, because local authorities need to fill incinerators with waste for them to function...I believe that incentives and disincentives are the way forward. I also support the idea of an incineration tax. The landfill tax has made a massive difference in ​diverting waste from landfill; an incineration tax would ensure that we do not just divert all our waste to incinerators.

Dr Alan Whitehead, Shadow Minister - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Energy and Climate Change:
Real residual waste is a fairly small proportion of the waste stream, which suggests that a policy of introducing very large incinerators to collect that waste would fix us in place on the waste hierarchy rather than move us up it.

Other Sources

Zero Waste Europe:
There is a need to define suitable pre-treatment in a way that, whilst ensuring the negative impacts of landfills are reduced, keeps the flexibility required to continuously improve the performance of waste management systems, adapting equipment and operations to increasing amounts of clean materials (dry recyclables and biowaste) generated by separate collection. With regards to this, a “Material Recovery and Biological Treatment (MRBT)” system that combines biological treatment and sorting equipment allows us to “stabilise” the organics that are included in residual waste, so as to minimise their impact once buried in a landfill, while also helping to recover materials such as metals, plastics, paper that are still included in residual waste after separate collection.

Recycling quotes from 2019

Governmental Sources

Stroud District Council leaders Doina Cornell (Labour), Martin Whiteside (Green) and Ken Tucker (Liberal Democrat):
The incinerator is a disaster. It is expensive to run, the contract undermines attempts to reduce the amount of waste we produce and recycle, and will undermine our commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030 and tackle climate change.

Report by Eunomia for the Scottish Government:
It would be wise to limit development of new thermal treatment capacity to that required once any targets have been met to avoid creating overcapacity as recycling increases.

Dawn Woodward, DEFRA's Deputy Head of Resources and Waste:
[EfW] is at the bottom of the waste hierarchy. There always be a place for it but we hope with the activities [set out in the Government's waste and resources strategy] that we will push up everything else and that EfW remains at the bottom. There should not be such a parity between recycling and EfW.

Academic Sources

Professor Nicky Gregson, Durham University:
...there is a distinct trade-off. The areas with higher levels of incineration have the lowest recycling rates.

Other Sources

Peter Høngaard Andersen, Director of Innovation Fund Denmark:
Denmark is very, very bad (regarding) reusable plastic, and that is because, for many years, we have burned our waste using incinerator plants...

Recycling quotes from 2018

Governmental Sources

The Danish Government:
We incinerate an enormous amount of waste in Denmark; waste which we could get much more out of by more recycling and better recycling.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra):
Increased recycling and use of recyclate will lead to less landfilled and incinerated packaging waste, less litter and decrease in the use of virgin raw materials. These outcomes will improve the environment for the public and for wildlife, as well as generating carbon savings...Increased recycling of packaging waste will also lead to less packaging waste being sent to energy-from-waste and landfill treatment. Packaging waste going to landfill or incineration loses its residual value for good and harms the environment at the same time.

Parliamentary Sources

London Assembly Environment Committee:
Investing in more EfW [incineration] can negatively affect long term recycling rates...

Recycling quotes from 2017

Parliamentary Sources

20 MPs:
That this House notes in the UK there is now more waste incineration capacity built and under construction than it is forecast there will be genuinely residual combustible waste to burn; further notes that incineration overcapacity can be a barrier to achieving the recycling society; believes that realising such a recycling society would result in significant economic, social and environmental benefits; acknowledges the need to send a clear message that the waste hierarchy should shift focus away from incineration and towards waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting; and calls on the Government and the devolved governments to introduce a complete moratorium on new waste incineration capacity, covering both conventional waste incineration and other forms such as gasification and pyrolysis, as a matter of urgency.

European Union Sources

Oakdene Hollins (UK) at the request of the Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (DG EPRS) of the European Parliament:
The UK currently exports approximately half of its domestic municipal waste but is planning to develop incinerator plants domestically. Due to the high capital costs associated with the construction of incinerators, once incineration is available, it can create a lock-in effect and divert investment away from higher value applications for recyclates, undermining waste prevention strategies (Wilts & von Gries, 2015). Additionally, overcapacity can lead to financial risks both for local governments and private businesses (GAIA, 2013).

Recycling quotes from 2015

European Union Sources

Helmut Maurer, European Commission’s waste and recycling division:
…Our way of counting recycling is flawed… We are lying to everyone. We do not recycle, we incinerate and incineration is not recycling…

Recycling quotes from 2014

Parliamentary Sources

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRACOM):
When we [EFRACOM] asked the Minister how the Government ensures that only genuinely residual waste is sent to incinerators, he told us that the key pressure is gate fees—i.e. the charge that must be paid to dispose of waste in an incineration facility. However, we are concerned about the effectiveness of this singular mechanism following evidence we received about ‘put or pay contracts’ and negative impacts on recycling rates.

European Union Sources

Janez Potočnik European Commissioner for Environment:
We should avoid over investment in incineration to the extent that it inhibits progress to further recycling and waste reduction because once built, as you mentioned yourself, they need to be fed with waste for many decades and in a way we could be locked in

Envionmental Consultancy Sources

It will be appreciated that AD sits above incineration in the waste hierarchy, which presents a certain irony as many current local authority residual waste contracts disincentivise food waste collection and AD...Introducing food waste collection reduces the tonnage of waste which needs to be sent for residual treatment. Many waste collection authorities (WCAs) have no incentive to offer such collections due to the fact that waste disposal authorities have clauses within contracts for the management of their residual waste stream which state that if they supply less than a guaranteed minimum tonnage (GMT) to the contractor, they risk having to pay for the shortfall in waste delivered. This means that once residual waste falls below a certain level, the marginal benefit from avoiding disposal becomes, potentially, zero... It will be appreciated that AD sits above incineration in the waste hierarchy, which presents a certain irony as many current local authority residual waste contracts disincentivise food waste collection and AD...

At the local level, there are a number of local authorities in England who are already in a situation where the options for additional recycling are constrained by contracts they have entered into with companies regarding incineration of residual waste.

Other Sources

Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) :
Energy incentives must not be allowed to distort re-use and recycling markets for waste. Too much thermal capacity is highly likely to have an adverse impact on recycling rates; this can be seen with the current competition for feedstock from underutilised European plant. An approach similar to that taken in Scotland may be appropriate, ensuing that recyclable materials are as far as possible recovered for recycling prior to waste being incinerated…there is a need to ensure that only truly residual waste is used [for incineration]...

Green Alliance:
Landfill bans are not a silver bullet however and to avoid landfill bans simply leading to an increase in incineration of residual waste, it is important to introduce them with supporting policies that develop collection and recycling systems. The Waste (Scotland) Regulations provide an instructive example of a well-targeted package of measures that includes landfill and incineration bans.

Institution of Civil Engineers:
In the waste hierarchy, recovery through thermal treatment is below recycling. This suggests waste should only be recovered where it is not possible to recycle. As such, efforts to decrease the amount of waste produced and to increase the amount of recycling could be affected by the drive to develop EfW

Novamont SpA , Bioplastic manufacturer:
Experiences from Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany where today recycling has plateaued and excess incineration capacity exists leading to significant cross border transfer of residual waste at low costs show that high levels of incineration not only hinders recycling at a local level but in other countries as well.”

Wood Panel Industries Federation:
Current biomass energy generation policies are undermining this principle by subsidising energy generators to burn not only waste wood that could be reused by wood processors but also virgin timber that could been processed and recycled numerous times before being burned. Unfortunately the subsidies provided to biomass energy generators offer a very significant market advantage in purchasing this wood, damaging efforts to encourage wood recycling and reuse by acting as a disincentive for segregation and sorting….It is essential that only waste wood which could not have been reused or recycled should be incinerated. Energy plants will naturally gravitate towards the cheapest and easiest material to use – namely, uncontaminated wood – unless specific measures are put in place to focus incentives (and restrictions) around the use of contaminated wood…A ban on sending wood to landfill alongside a ban on burning uncontaminated waste wood would ensure that the best use is made of our valuable and finite timber resource

Recycling quotes from 2013

Parliamentary Sources

Llyr Huws Gruffydd, Plaid spokesperson on the environment:
The current policy to fund waste incineration projects for 25 years is unsustainable for economic and environmental reasons...Waste incineration would mean that local authorities would have the perverse incentive not to increase recycling rates as they would otherwise struggle to supply waste incinerators with sufficient combustibles

Russell George, Welsh Conservative spokesperson on the environment:
There has to be greater understanding and acceptance that the waste that we generate is a valuable resource that must be properly capitalised in the Welsh economy. We have a circular economy concept, and that is why I believe it is highly important that we are pumping back materials into the economy rather than burning or burying them. That is the only viable solution for the future.

Recycling quotes from 2012

Governmental Sources

At Local Authority level, individual recycling rates ranged from 14 per cent to 69 per cent…lower rates could result from an authority focusing on avoiding landfill by investing in incineration and targeting its waste management policies on that treatment solution, rather than poor recycling awareness or initiatives.

European Union Sources

Janez Potočnik European Commissioner for Environment:
...There are two major objectives we need to pursue. Obviously, landfill rates must go down as quickly as possible, but it is also important to switch from energy recovery to increased recycling. Plastic recycling rates are far too low across Europe with an average of just 24 per cent. Today, even in countries with high recovery rates, there is simply not enough plastic available for recycling because most of it goes to energy recovery. A dominance of energy recovery over recycling is not acceptable in the medium-term…...

European Commission:
The big challenge is to reduce the amount of waste that is sent for incineration which could be recycled instead. In the UK there is a decrease in the proportion of waste that is going to landfill, which is good, but this is still a high proportion of the total waste…To solve this, the UK should look to reuse and recycling and not to over capacity of incineration – Countries like Denmark and Switzerland are burning much more than they should and that’s not good. There is an opportunity for the UK to take positively; I hope they will move in the right direction

Envionmental Consultancy Sources

Mike Brown, Eunomia Managing Director:
Most local authorities that started incinerator projects, often with government PFI support, did so with a clear commitment to burn only what couldn’t be recycled, but then found themselves tempted by a business case that stacked up better for a big plant than for a small one. Once the incinerator is built, they have to keep it supplied and rapidly the economic logic of return on investment trumps concerns about recycling.

Phillip Ward, Resource Futures Non-executive Chair:
black bag waste is not a single material. Resource Futures are the holders of comprehensive information about its composition and their study – published by Defra – shows that it is largely made up of regular recyclable materials and much of it is non-combustible.

Recycling quotes from 2011

Governmental Sources

Charles Hendry MP, Minister of State (Renewable Energy), Energy and Climate Change:
Incineration should be considered for electricity generation only after all other options, such as recycling and reuse, have been looked at

Natural Scotland & SEPA:
Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA) resulting from the thermal treatment of combustible waste can be used in the manufacture of construction materials as a substitute for virgin aggregate. The use of incinerator bottom ash in construction projects is not the same as recycling the materials which were burnt to generate the ash - it is an example of downcycling. The aim of the Zero Waste Plan is that most waste is sorted into separate streams for closed loop recycling and minimise the quantities requiring tertiary treatment and, in the case of thermal treatment, minimise the amount of ash being produced which then requires further management and/or disposal. Therefore, the use of incinerator bottom ash (IBA) will not count towards the household waste recycling target...

Recycling quotes from 2010

Governmental Sources

Dr Paul Leinster, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency:
...What we should not be doing is having incinerators which then mean minimisation, re-use, recycling get impacted and that has to be over the 25 year period. I do have concerns over locking technologies in on a 25 year basis when technologies are moving as fast as they do....

Local Government Improvement and Development:
There is a danger that investing in large, inflexible EfW incineration facilities as a technical fix to divert waste from landfill can undermine efforts to prioritise minimisation and recycling.

Urban Mines:
...the recorded data suggests that up to 97.5% of the C&I waste landfilled in the [North West] region could be recycled if the correct facilities and services were available.

Recycling quotes from 2008

Governmental Sources

Audit Commission:
WDAs [Waste Disposal Authorities] might buy too much disposal infrastructure if they: overestimate future volumes of waste arising (including other authorities’ waste or trade waste). They may also achieve a worse environmental solution if, by building large disposal facilities, they reduce their own financial incentive to pursue waste reduction or recycling initiatives.

Recycling quotes from 2002

Governmental Sources

Audit Commission:
The challenge exercise for recycling and the Council’s ability to maximise recycling is limited by the emphasis that has been placed on incineration and the need to maintain guaranteed minimum tonnages of waste to support the operation of the incinerator.

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