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AD chief says incinerators are preventing recycling growth

An anaerobic digestion industry leader has warned that some waste management companies’ commitment to incineration and MRF technology is preventing the government meeting its environmental goals.

Charlotte Morton, chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA), told MRW the growth of incinerators and MRFs stood in the way of a move towards source segregation of waste that was critical to raise recycling rates.

Morton said waste management companies have invested in technologies they were told government and local authorities wanted and she understands from their perspective they need time to make the transition to source segregation.

But, she said: “now we’ve learned that source segregation is far better, and end-of-waste criteria make it vital”, waste management firms have to recognise they must “transition”. But there is “some reluctance” amongst some in the industry, as demonstrated by the number of planning applications for incinerators.

Morton also said government and the Environmental Services Association should send a stronger message that the industry should move towards source segregation.

The Government, she said, wanted to “leave it to the market”.

“But the market will do whatever makes most money and won’t deliver the right results for the environment”.

Morton said she was concerned that the “incineration lobby seem to have quite a strong voice” within government.

ESA director of policy Matthew Farrow said: “We do not recognise the picture of the waste management industry painted by ADBA.

“Working with local councils, ESA members have been central to achieving a fourfold increase in household waste recycling rates over the past 10 or so years.

“The industry uses a wide range of different collection methods, including separate and co-mingled collections, according to local circumstances and the wishes of local communities.

“As an association, ESA is technology neutral and, unlike ADBA, does not lobby government in support of a specific technology. ESA members have invested more than £1bn in new waste treatment infrastructure over the past few years, using a wide range of different recycling and recovery technologies, responding to the needs of local communities, businesses, and reprocessors in the UK and elsewhere.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • "ESA director of policy Matthew Farrow said: 'We do not recognise the picture of the waste management industry painted by ADBA.'" - well I do! What I do not recognise is the picture of the ESA painted by Farrow.
    MRW readers will recall that it was the ESA that called for incinerators without CHP to be seen as producing green energy (sounds to me like the ESA was lobbying the Government in support of a specific technology) - the same ESA that refused to publish reports from the £100,000 safety study of incinerator ash [A Report for Selected UK EFW Operators: H14 Assessment of MSW IBA WRc Ref: UC7538 20 Sept 07].
    If the ESA is so 'technology neutral' then why do they not make the full data from this study available to the public so that we can make a comprehensive and 'technology neutral' assessment of the dangers of incineration?

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