England headed for incineration overcapacity, warns UKWIN

Pressure group United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) has today (22 September) published the findings of its research into English incineration capacity and feedstock availability. The report asserts that the country could see an overcapacity of up to 14 million tonnes.

incinerator This figure is based on the total incineration projects already granted planning permission – which the report says could see capacity grow to more than 27 million tonnes at a time – and  feedstock data – which illustrates a potential decrease of around 13 million tonnes.

UKWIN is pushing for an ‘immediate moratorium’ to prevent the granting of new permits, an action it says would cap incineration overcapacity ‘at around 8.5 million tonnes’. The pressure group is urging the public to write to local MPs to encourage action on the issue.

The group says the moratorium would:

  1. Prevent further exacerbating incineration overcapacity
  2. Encourage the more efficient use of existing incinerators
  3. Prevent pollution from harming air and soil quality
  4. Support the transition towards net zero carbon
  5. Enable a more circular economy, with increased reduction, re-use, and recycling

UKWIN’s campaign follows a petition from Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic’s ‘Big Plastic Count’ calling on the UK Government to ‘ban new incinerators being built’, which was signed by 124,000 people.

Pressure on the Government to assess incinerator overcapacity has also come from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which has called for an ‘up-to-date assessment of residual waste treatment capacity needs for the UK out to 2050, consistent with committed and proposed targets’.

UKWIN says that it opposes the incineration of waste, including via gasification and pyrolysis, because incineration ‘depresses recycling, destroys valuable resources, releases greenhouse gases, and is a waste of money’. It therefore concludes that ‘incineration has ‘no place in the circular economy towards which we should be working’.

Shlomo Dowen, UKWIN's National Coordinator, said: "To support the circular economy, both Wales and Scotland have already called a halt to further incineration capacity. A moratorium on new incinerators in England would send a clear signal that investment should target reduction, reuse, and recycling".