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Incineration Efficiency Warning Ahead of EU Waste Debate

Local authorities planning to use incinerators to divert waste away from landfill should check that proposals meet forthcoming EU energy efficiency criteria.

The warning came ahead of next week’s European Parliament vote in Strasbourg, on a Directive that could shape the next 50 years of EU policy on waste management (see story).

 If you are planning an incinerator for your Waste Local Plan, you need to understand the criteria.
– Caroline Jackson MEP The Directive includes measures that would classify energy-from-waste incinerators as “recovery” plants, rather than “disposal” facilities if they are sufficiently efficient at generating energy from waste being treated.

Dr Caroline Jackson – the British MEP leading the negotiation of the revision to the Waste Framework Directive – explained that plants that meet the energy efficiency criteria would gain greater acceptance by the public.

However, she urged planners and council waste chiefs in the UK to look again at any incinerator proposals if they want their plants to be defined in future as “recovery” facilities rather than “disposal” plants.

“The Directive has one key message for local authorities: If you are planning an incinerator for your Waste Local Plan, you need to understand the criteria and make plans to meet it. Some may have to re-design their incineration plants if they wish to redefine them as recovery facilities,” she said.

Dr Jackson said she was fully supportive of more incineration being used, provided it was efficient. She derided the “out of date” views of her Conservative Party colleague Peter Ainsworth that there were still concerns with the health affects of incineration in the UK, now the EU Waste Incineration Directive is in force.

She said the only question concerning whether to use incineration – or recycling – was over its carbon footprint. The MEP for the South West suggested that both recycling and incineration of certain materials should be looked at by the government in order to minimise the emission of climate change-causing carbon.

It is believed that only one existing incinerator in the UK – in Sheffield – is in a position to meet the new EU energy efficiency criteria. This is because most plants do not generate heat for use in the community, only electricity, since the unpopularity of incinerators means they are rarely built close enough to neighbours that could use the heat.

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