It is always tempting when someone does not do what you want them to do to dismiss them as being unreasonable extremists. I believe the energy- from-waste (EfW) sector must never do that, so I do not subscribe to environmentalists being ignored.
After all, we are all environmentalists – its just that some of us come at it from a different perspective. These ‘environmental lobbyists’, as I will call them, are our consciences and without them we would have unclean air and a poisoned environment all over the world.
But to live the lifestyle we want, there are practical issues that must be addressed, and waste is one of them.
“To live the lifestyle we want, there are practical issues that must be addressed, and waste is one of them.”
Lobbyists want to make the rules on incinerator emissions much more stringent than at present. The industry, I think, accepts that the technology is now in such a position that a tightening of the limits can be sustained. But it needs to have a set of rules it can meet at an acceptable economic cost.
So there needs to be a tradeoff between having very low emissions but very expensive waste management with having higher emissions but at a lower cost.
At no time has the sector wanted more relaxed emission limits than are currently in place, but it has sought a level that can be afforded without impacting human health.
EfW is a safe technology and the emission levels are stringent. While it would be better to recycle everything, the world is not yet in a position to do that.
Keith Riley is Partner at consultancy EnergyGap