The amount of waste sent to incineration in England increased in the last quarter of 2012, marking a further step towards energy-from-waste (EfW) surpassing landfill as the main method for managing residual waste.
Some 1.5 million tonnes of household waste managed by local authorities were processed in EfW facilities between October and December of 2012, up 12% year-on-year, according to the latest statistics published by Defra.
Landfill, however, remained the most used facility to manage residual waste, as landfill sites received some 2 million tonnes of materials in the last three months of the year. With this amount representing a 7% decrease year-on-year, the volumes of waste sent to incinerator and to landfill have reached their closest levels in five years (see chart above).
Over the last five years waste going to incineration has increased by 65%, while waste going to landfill has dropped by 38%.
The driver of the decline in waste sent to landfill continued to be landfill tax, said Defra.
“Generating energy from waste by incineration is preferable to landfill, although recycling and reuse are preferable to both,” it added.
Some 40.9% of household waste was recycled in England in the last three months of 2012, slightly down in comparison to 41.1% the year before.
However, the amount of waste recycled, composted or reused in the whole of 2012 reached 43.6%, a rise from 43% in 2011.
The data confirmed that England is still lagging behind Wales on the recycling front, as the latter recycled, composted or reused some 52% of household waste in 2012, up from 49% in 2011.
English councils, however, recycled more than their counterparts in Northern Ireland, where 50% of waste was sent to landfill in the first three months of 2013.