Energy-from-waste (EfW) business Cory Riverside has said claims by a campaign group on the environmental impact of incineration are inaccurate and risk “distorting waste management policy”.
A report by United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN), based on emissions reports from 42 EfW facilities, said burning plastics waste will cause nearly £25bn of environmental harm during the next 30 years.
But Cory Riverside refuted UKWIN’s key findings, and warned the claims could lead to politicians and other policy-makers rejecting EfW as an essential method of dealing with residual waste instead of landfill.
The company said UKWIN’s report was a “gross distortion of fact” in assuming that landfill had net negative carbon emissions, and that the report had severely underestimated the impact of methane emissions from landfill.
Cory’s report concludes: “We abhor the fact that UKWIN has published yet another report based on bias rather than fact, which recommends a harmful method of waste disposal and serves to potentially distort waste management policy.”
Chief executive Nicholas Pollard said UKWIN’s report was “deeply flawed”.
“This is both frustrating and highly concerning because it risks diverting the attention of policy-makers away from the clear and present need to provide a means of processing the UK’s residual waste.
“The issue is not whether burning refuse to generate electricity is more carbon intensive than solar or wind power – it clearly is – but whether creating energy from waste is better than landfill operations, with their associated issues of leachate, unconstrained corrosive gas emissions to atmosphere, water course pollution and the like – none of which are mentioned in UKWIN’s report.
“We completely agree that waste must be minimised and recycled as much as possible. After that it must be disposed of as cleanly, usefully and efficiently as possible.
“For UKWIN to imply that landfill is carbon-negative and therefore a preferable solution to EfW is incredibly irresponsible, and in direct contradiction to the Government’s own legally established waste hierarchy.
“Handling the UK’s residual, non-recyclable waste in an environmentally responsible manner cannot be taken lightly and requires a productive, unbiased conversation based on objective fact. Unfortunately, UKWIN’s report does not support this in any way.”