with household waste is due to be published tomorrow. The study, which
is expected to include landfill, recycling and incineration, was
requested by the Number 10 Strategy Unit in its report Waste Not, Want
future direction of government waste management policies.
The new government study is expected to draw on previous reports
including research carried out for the Community Recycling Network
in 2002, which also considered the impacts of various waste management
processes on the environment and health.
The CRN research found:
. Climate change. In terms of climate change impact, incineration is
worse over a 100 year period than landfill with methane capture;
. Human toxicity. In terms of human toxicity the research suggested
that waste going to landfill was the worst option, the second worst
option was standard incineration.
Friends of the Earth is campaigning for the government to take action
to encourage ways of dealing with our waste that are less harmful to
public health and the environment - and positive action to discourage
more damaging options.
The environmental campaign group wants the government to reduce the
amount of waste generated in the first place, and ensure that far more
is either re-used or recycled. Last week new government figures
revealed that household waste in England increased by 1.1 per cent in
2002/3 (over the previous year) and that only 14.5 per cent of
household waste in England was recycled . This means that the
government is unlikely to reach its target of recycling or composting
at least 25 per cent of household waste by 2005 in England and Wales.
Austria recycles around two thirds of its waste (64%), Belgium
recycles over half (52 %) .
The Conservatives introduced a landfill tax (currently£15 a tonne) to
disc ourage the landfilling of waste. But despite calls for action,
Labour has failed to introduce similar measures to discourage
incineration. In fact, incineration is encouraged through tax breaks
and subsidies by up to£11 a tonne because energy is produced from the
Recycling materials saves more energy than incineration, but it does
not receive equivalent subsidy for the energy saved.
The government has refused to move forward on considering an
incineration tax until after the report on health and environmental
impacts of waste management options has been released. If, as seems
likely, the study shows that incineration is a worse option than
recycling, the government will have no reason to delay the
introduction of economic measures to reflect this.
1. Available here.
2. Environmental Signals 2002 - European Environment Agency.