SOURCE: The Guardian
DATE: November 16, 2020
SNIP: Carbon emissions from waste disposal are increasing because of the expansion of energy-from-waste incineration plants, a coalition of campaigners has warned.

By 2030 the government’s push to increase incineration of waste will increase CO2 emissions by 10m tonnes a year, mostly from the burning of plastics, the groups said. They argue that the growth in energy-from-waste incineration means the UK will not be able to meet its commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In an open letter to the prime minister they are calling for a law requiring the waste sector to decarbonise by 2035, similar to legislation passed in the Scandinavian countries and Finland.

Rembrandt Koppelaar, an environmental economist and co-author of the open letter, said: “The UK will not be able to deliver on its net zero commitments unless the government intervenes in the waste sector.

“Without a change in government policy, we can expect large-scale expansion of energy-from-waste incineration to lock us into an additional 10m tonnes of CO2 emissions per year by 2030, primarily from the burning of plastics.”

The amount of waste incinerated in the UK increased from 4.9m tonnes in 2014 to 10.8m tonnes in 2017-18 and is set to continue rising. Meanwhile, recycling rates have reached a plateau and the UK is expected to miss its 50% recycling target by the end of this year.

Evidence presented to MPs last year suggested that areas that had increased levels of incineration of waste had correspondingly lower levels of recycling.

The Guardian and Greenpeace revealed that incineration plants are also three times as likely to be situated in the most deprived and ethnically diverse areas of the UK, raising concerns about the impact on air quality and the health of vulnerable people.

There are 50 incinerators planned or in development in the near future.