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.”