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New body urges Government to take energy-from-waste seriously

“The tide is beginning to turn,” as energy-from- waste (EfW) is being taken more seriously by the Government, said MP Alan Whitehead at the launch of a new body dedicated to supporting EfW to secure the UK’s energy infrastructure.

The meeting of Energy from Waste UK included figures from all over the waste management and plastics industry, including Sita UK, Veolia Environmental Services, Covanta Energy, Plastics Europe and the British Plastics Federation.

Chaired by Whitehead, he said in his speech: “So far, EfW policy has dashed itself from opposite shores of energy policy. If you look at recent documents on energy policy, waste features hardly at all. The Government talks about waste or energy, not about both.”

Responding to a question put by Sita director of external affairs Gev Eduljee about whether the Government is committed to energy from waste, Whitehead said: “The Government is beginning to turn around following the document Pathway to 2050, which is the first time there has been a substantial piece on EfW in an energy document that has demonstrated a realistic role for it in the energy economy.”

EfW UK launched its mission statement, urging the coalition Government to tap into the potential opportunities the range of EfW technologies can offer the UK, alongside the Government’s current focus on anaerobic digestion.

It believes EfW:

·         can help prevent a UK energy deficit – it is well positioned because of its scale, reliability as a 24/7 source of “base load” generation, security, sustainability and flexibility

·         is a cost effective solution in challenging economic times – It will keep energy prices down

·         can contribute to the ‘localism’ agenda – It can be built around towns, providing heat and power directly

·         is compatible with effective recycling

·         is not harmful to the environment or public health – modern facilities should not be confused with old incineration facilities which would not meet today’s stringent regulatory standards.

Veolia managing director for technology Keith Riley presented the launch. He said: “EfW UK is a meeting of minds on what is really a single purpose.

“It is my view, that in this country in the past, electricity has been regarded as something cheap that doesn’t cost much and we don’t need to worry about it. It has been undervalued… In turn, waste is thrown away…so connecting the energy and waste is something people haven’t done in the past and haven’t liked to do…But waste could contribute up to 10% of our energy needs.”

EfW UK will be meeting with Defra and environment minister Lord Henley on 29 March to discuss its plans. Meanwhile, Imperial College London, which is a signatory of the body, is currently developing a more consumer focused web-site about EfW UK.

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