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ESA urges Government support for energy from waste

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has called on the Government to set clear policies to support energy from waste (EfW) and ensure it is not deflected from them.

In a report, Energy for the Circular Economy: an Overview of Energy from Waste in the UK, intended to influence the Government’s resources and waste strategy expected in the autumn, the ESA said “simple policy interventions” could support the diversion of up to 60 million tonnes of waste from landfill in the next 10 years, saving 12 million tonnes of CO₂.

It has estimated that up to £10bn of private sector capital would be available to the recycling and resource management sector, delivering 50,000 jobs, if there was clear policy on support for EfW.

Executive director Jacob Hayler said: “The Government must support us in unlocking domestic infrastructure investment in EfW by creating a coherent, stable policy environment for recycling and resource management, focusing on the material that simply cannot be recycled.”

He added: “Our sector, in cost-effective partnerships with local authorities, is already successfully generating clean, low-carbon energy from non-recyclable waste at world-class facilities across the UK, and its contribution could be even greater.”

The ESA report said its members in 2016 diverted 9.6 million tonnes of waste from landfill to EfW, producing 5TWh of low-carbon electricity and 730GWh of heat.

The association called for a resources and waste strategy that would set long-term levels for greater resource productivity and comprehensive policies to deliver these, including a clear plan for waste reduction and recycling.

It also said the Government should work with industry to assess how much extra residual waste treatment capacity is needed, and ensure that its delivery was not “undermined by sudden changes to taxes and subsidies, or by changes in policy and targets”.

Combined heat and power plants should be encouraged to help address the energy gap, along with a heat sector plan developed with local authorities, putting stronger sustainability criteria into their local plans.

The ESA report is a further move in its efforts to win support for EfW capacity. Last September it issued a call for an end to the “ceaseless debates” about waste treatment infrastructure.

A month before that, consultancy Eunomia argued that the UK would reach an overcapacity of residual waste treatment facilities by 2020-21.

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