Unless prompt action is taken, England and Wales could soon be drowning under a sea of rubbish.
This is the stark message from a Sustainable Transport of Resources and Waste (STRAW) report that believes urgent measures are needed to deal with the 400 million tonnes of rubbish produced in the regions each year.
With legislative changes such as the landfill directive already reducing the traditional options for dealing with waste, the STRAW report calls for an urgent rethink of how we view waste and what we do with it.
It states that these strategic hubs would form part of a sustainable inter-modal transport system which integrates rail, inland waterways and coastal routes, cutting the miles that waste is transported by road, and in turn reducing the emissions from lorries.
EnviroCentre STRAW report project director doctor Robin Curry said: “In this day and age, when resources are so scarce, it surely makes both economic and environmental sense to turn waste into energy.
“We’ve established that by 2020, around 10% of the UK’s energy could be supplied from refuse derived fuel (RDF). Put another way, that would mean a 19 million tonne reduction in coal burnt in our power stations each year – a huge financial saving, but an even greater one in terms of C02 emissions.”
The report maintains that unless we adopt a more strategic approach to waste management, we could miss out on an excellent opportunity to cut our reliance on fossil fuels by using waste as a source of energy.
It was commissioned by the National Centre for Business and Sustainability, where STRAW coordinator, Dr Mary Parkinson, said: “With changes such as the Landfill Directive already taking effect, we need to act now, not just to develop more sustainable ways of dealing with waste, but to mine it as a potential resource for the future.
“In order to grasp this opportunity, there needs to be both legislative change and a new proactive approach to waste management. We can’t just sit back and talk about the options any longer.”