Shadow resources minister David Drew has said a redrafted Labour policy on waste will have a “much more sceptical attitude” to energy-from-waste (EfW) because of its adverse impact on recycling rates.
This clashes with the industry view that EfW is an essential part of the UK’s waste management treatment options and that it should co-exist with recycling.
david drew 2
Drew, left, recently backed a report on incinerator emissions published by campaign group UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN).
He told MRW the report was the “first of a number that we will be pursuing”.
“Labour is in the process of revising its waste policy which at the very least will have a much more sceptical attitude towards incineration as it is crowding out recycling,” he said.
“I will be producing a paper later in the year on this.”
A researcher for Drew, Ron Bailey, also worked on the UKWIN report.
Drew was one of three MPs from across the political divide to attend a UKWIN event to launch the report at the House of Lords on 17 July.
Shlomo Dowen, UKWIN national co-ordinator said he wanted to use the “the levers of democracy to make a difference”.
The report argued that information was supposed to be made public for PM10 and PM2.5 emissions where these reached one tonne a year, but that there was no commercially available equipment to do such continuous monitoring.
UKWIN said this meant emissions could exceed reporting thresholds without the public being told.
“We found out early on that clearly there is a direct relationship with the growth of incineration and the relative flat-lining of recycling.”
At the meeting, Drew said: “We came at this as an exercise to look at why there has been such little transparency in the process of how we dispose of our waste.
“We found out early on that clearly there is a direct relationship with the growth of incineration and the relative flat-lining of recycling… There are aspects of the pollutants that are either glibly batted away or more particularly are ignored.
“We have met with the EA… no one has yet been able to prove in any way that what we have said is wrong.”
Bim Afolami, Conservative MP for Hitchen and Harpenden said: “The reason I am concerned about it is that there is a proposal just outside my constituency, yards over the border, for a large incinerator. And since then, as you can imagine, people have been very concerned.”
But Afolami also questioned how residual waste should be dealt with as “landfill has its own problems”.
A report by the Green Party launched in the same week as the UKWIN event also called for a moratorium on building new EfW facilities, over concerns that EfW is blocking recycling rates.
Jacob Hayler, ESA executive director, said: “It is simply wrong to suggest that EfW crowds out recycling, as can easily be seen by looking across many of our EU partners where high levels of recycling happily co-exist with the use of EfW to treat non-recyclable wastes.
“In the same vein, some of the highest performing recycling counties in England have also adopted EfW solutions.
“The issue is not that EfW crowds out recycling. On the contrary, EfW crowds out landfill, which is the alternative option for managing residual waste.”
Hayler said the Government’s forthcoming resources and waste strategy should include policies to separate as much recyclable material from the waste stream as possible.
He added: “But EfW remains the best alternative for the non-recyclable remainder, both in terms of investment in local communities and environmentally.”