A case of overcapacity

Energy-from-waste plants have been touted by many as a solution to the waste problem. But have we over-egged how many we need? Leonie Butler reports on one council’s decision to fight back against incineration

This article was taken from Issue 72

Out of all the various residual waste treatment options available, incinerators form the majority of facilities currently in operation or waiting to receive planning consent or funding. This is in spite of increasing calls from environmentalists to phase out energy-from-waste (EfW) plants, with Friends of the Earth saying that by 2020, these incinerators will be ‘almost as polluting in terms of CO2 emissions as new or refitted coal-fired power stations, and 78 per cent worse than new gas power stations’. Despite this, and the hefty price tag associated with incinerators, some still believe they offer a straightforward waste solution in terms of logistics and energy output. With the government on board with this kind of thinking, we’ve started building mass-burn infrastructure throughout the UK. The thing is, it seems as though we might have miscalculated how many we need, and we won’t have enough waste to burn to keep the plants running!