4 August 2010
Adrian Ramsay, the Green Party's deputy leader, explains the Green approach to reducing and reusing waste and job creation, and the government's review of their policies in this area:
Last week, the coalition government announced a review of waste policies in England. It will include a consideration of "how to ensure the right contribution of energy from waste" - in other words, incineration. More incinerators will take us in the wrong direction. They provide an incentive to keep waste levels high, when the amount of waste we produce is starting to decline and Green policies would see it decline much further through measures such as taxes on packaging.
Expensive private incinerator contracts oblige councils to guarantee the regular delivery of large amounts of waste to keep the incinerator burning. Councils are then at risk of having to pay compensation to the private operator if there is a shortfall. The ratio of energy generated per unit of greenhouse gases released by incinerators is typically two times worse than for coal-fired power stations."
In Croydon, Greens have found that an incinerator bid included provision for sludge disposal, radioactive, toxic, medical and hazardous waste services, and clinical waste disposal. The billion pound procurement contract also suggested hazardous waste from other areas would be transported in via trucks for disposal.
When you look at the vast sums involved, and councils being locked into decades-long contracts, money could be better spent in a variety of ways. We would favour education programmes, re-use and repair facilities, comprehensive kerbside recycling, composting programmes, and mechanical and biological waste treatment plants. These methods are safe, better for the environment, and create far more local jobs.