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In a message dated 10/12/2006 5:38:47 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
firstname.lastname@example.org writes:Zero Waste Alliance have prepared the attached
Declaration âA bridge half builtâ with a leading influence from Robin Murray and
after consultation with others closely associated with the Zero Waste movement
at home and internationally. We propose to send it to David Miliband,
Secretary of State for the Environment as well as to the National Press,
encouraging local groups to Press Release it to their local Press as well as send it to
their local MPâs and politicians.
Richard Anthony Associates is in full support
At the moment we are looking for pledges to support the letter and for
groups to be prepared to say they support it. Can we count on you? Can you
circulate to others?Please note that we say âZero Waste Alliance â not ZWA UK or
International or any other name as this may give us one voice to promote our
common aim of Zero Waste. Please email back to indicate your support with
your name & or groups name in full.
UK National Waste Policy â A Bridge Half Built
A Zero Waste Alliance Declaration
Zero Waste Alliance UK is a company registered by guarantee in England &
company number 4452297, www.zwallianceuk.org
UK National Waste Policy - A Bridge Half Built
In July 2002 the Zero Waste Charter was launched at the House of Commons,
and has since received wide national and international backing. It argued that
there was a growing environmental imperative for the reduction, recycling and
composting of waste to reduce:
* the dangers to human health of incinerators and landfills,
* CO2 emissions,
* the pressure on virgin forests, on minerals and on rapidly degrading
The 10 point charter set out a strategy for moving to Zero Waste in the UK,
* maximising the recycling of dustbin and of bulky waste,
* introducing the doorstep collection of organic waste and a composting
* banning the thermal treatment of mixed waste and the landfilling of
untreated biological waste
* limiting waste disposal authorities to 10 year contracts to ensure
flexible facilities to complement the growth of recycling and composting
* introducing a disposal tax and earmarking its proceeds to promote
* accelerating and extending producer responsibility legislation
After the launch of the Charter, the Governmentâs Strategy Unit supported
many of the principles of the Charter. It led to a radical increase in the
landfill tax. It supported increased rates of recycling and composting, secured
additional funding for WRAP to engage in waste prevention and recycling, and
for the first time recommended Mechanical and Biological Treatment as an
alternative to incineration and landfill as a means of handling residual waste.
But it left a bridge half built. And policy has in the meantime slipped
back to its previous groove: timid on targets, and a promoter of incineration.
Climate change will not be countered by limited ambition. Leading countries
and regions in Europe are now recycling and composting 60% of their
municipal waste. The UK remains a straggler. Recycling has doubled in four years, but
still stands at no more than 23.5% in 2004/5. DEFRAâs current review
proposes a maximum target of 50% by 2020, a level that the best UK authority is
already meeting. This sets the bar too low. It offers too little too late.
Holding back recycling and composting and promoting incineration will not
reduce CO2 emissions. Yet this has been the consistent thread of Government
policy since the Strategy Unit Review:
* The UK government is notorious in Europe for its opposition to the
EU Bio Waste directive, and has had it shelved
* The UK Animal By-Products Regulations have set levels of treatment
way beyond those operating in the rest of the EU, raising the cost and
discouraging the composting of domestic and commercial food waste
* The Government is pressing the EU Commission to redefine incineration
as recovery rather than disposal
* Funds for PFI waste disposal contracts have been increased,
encouraging large scale, capital intensive disposal technologies and 20-25 year
contracts and reducing the incentive to maximise recycling__
* In proposing long term national targets for incineration, but only
modest short term recycling and composting targets for individual local
authorities (a maximum of 30% for 2007/8) Government encourages disposal
authorities to crowd out recycling and composting by the construction of large scale
* The escalating landfill tax coupled with LATS, without graduated
taxes on other forms of disposal, encourages a switch from landfill to other
disposal options rather than the maximisation of recycling and composting.
* DEFRA has substituted a tick box sustainability appraisal for the
Best Practical Environmental Option, which has facilitated proposals for
incineration at public enquiries
* In spite of massive local opposition the DTI has approved the
proposal for a giant incinerator at Belvedere in East London (up to 800,000 tonnes,
making it the largest incinerator in Europe), so creating a long term
appetite for paper and plastic from Greater London, that should be recycled to
save CO2 emissions. Belvedereâs approval sets a precedent for giant schemes
throughout the country.
DEFRAâs current Review is strong on the rhetoric of recycling, but it fails
to will the means. It remains a charter for incineration not for Zero Waste.
It argues for incineration as a means of countering climate change on two
grounds: that it replaces methane producing landfill, and that it substitutes
carbon neutral electricity production for fossil fuel power stations. __
But it under-estimates:
* The loss of stored up energy embodied in recyclable materials
prematurely incinerated (notably paper, aluminium, organic waste and plastic).
And it takes no account of:
* the capture of methane from landfill, which at the high rates assumed
elsewhere by DEFRA makes landfill broadly comparable in terms of net CO2
emissions to electricity-only incineration.__
* the fact that electricity-only incinerators generate 33% more fossil
CO2 than the gas fired power stations that they would replace__
(aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn4) and CHP or heat only incinerators are only
marginally better than gas fired stations even if the heat is put to good use -
not always possible even in areas like Scandinavia where the demand for heat
is higher than in the UK.__ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn5) .
* the sequestration of carbon in depleting soils through the
application of compost, or stabilised residues from MBT plants.
* the lifecycle energy costs involved (and the waste generated) in the
production of the incinerators themselves
Incinerators are producers of brown energy not green. They do not reduce
green house gas emissions but increase them, both because of the overall CO2
emissions at their strikingly low current levels of efficiency of 25% or less,
and because their destruction of the âgrey energyâ embodied in the materials
they burn increases the need for new energy intensive virgin materials.
The incentive structure and the process of decisions on disposal of waste
are tilted towards incineration. Whereas stabilised residues from MBT that are
landfilled are subject to the full landfill tax, bottom ash from incinerators
is classed as inert, and charged only Â2 a tonne.
Far from facing a graduated tax as a means of disposal, incinerators receive
more Government funding, and have greater access to private finance, than
recycling or composting. Accordingly they remain the technologies of choice
for disposal authorities which the Government have left with the decisive
institutional power in municipal waste management.__
Even where, because of public opposition, disposal authorities have fought
shy of incineration or its modern variants pyrolysis and gasification, they
have continued to negotiate 20-25 year inflexible contracts, incorporating
Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT) plants, that produce ârefuse-derived
fuelâ as a feedstock. They have made MBT, a potentially more flexible means of
stabilising residual organic waste and suitable for the transition to Zero
Waste, into a processing arm for incineration, and a barrier rather than a
support to Zero Waste strategies.
Zero Waste Alliance Proposals
Zero Waste policies have had to swim against the institutional and policy
tide, rather than being carried along by it. The Zero Waste Alliance therefore
urges the Government and local authorities to re-orient their policies in the
direction of Zero Waste, in line with leading regional and national
governments overseas, and further to the 10 points of the original charter, adopt the
following specific measures:
1. Set long term recycling and composting targets of 75% for all local
authorities by 2015, (and a minimum of 60% for each individual local
authority) along with waste minimisation targets, to prevent their crowding out by
local and regional long term disposal contracts.
1. Press the EU to introduce the Bio Waste Directive, and its
requirement for kerbside kitchen waste collections in all cities, towns and villages
with over 1,500 population.
1. Switch the government subsidy of PFI schemes to the start up costs of
food waste collection and composting, as part of the Treasuryâs forthcoming
Comprehensive Spending Review.
1. Extend the grant of carbon credits to recycling and composting to
reflect their impact on the reduction of CO2 emissions generated by the
production of virgin materials.
1. Extend Producer Responsibility Legislation to cover all materials in
the household waste stream, and raise the targets for recycling of plastic
packaging, glass and metals under existing legislation to those set by the
leading countries in Europe.
1. Recognise incineration as disposal not recovery, in line with the EU
Waste Framework Directive and rulings of the European Court of Justice.
1. Fund a major research programme to identify the hazards of nano
particles, particulate aerosols, and brominated flame retardants that
arise from the burning of mixed waste.
8. Introduce an incineration tax of at least Â12 per tonne.
9. Charge incinerator bottom ash at the full level of landfill tax (rather
than the Â2 a tonne which it currently enjoys by virtue of its unwarranted
classification as inert waste) and reduce the landfill tax to Â6 a tonne for
bio-degradable waste, stabilised to the levels set out in the 2nd draft of the
Bio Waste Directive.
10. Require compulsory insurance against future pollution and
health claims for all disposal and recovery facilities.
The past four years have not been wasted. The ground for a radical increase
in recycling and composting is now prepared. St Edmundsbury has become the
first council to pass the 50% recycling and composting target. The leading
continental and North American authorities are now reaching 75%. They mark the
path to Zero Waste.
The imperative of climate change has, too, at last been unequivocally
recognised by scientists, by the media and now by all major political parties. But
it is not reflected in waste policy. In spite of the evidence that recycling
and composting lead to major CO2 savings relative to incineration and
landfill - WRAP estimates the savings of current levels of recycling and composting
at 10-15 million tonnes of carbon equivalent per year7 and in spite of its
higher CO2 emissions relative to gas fired electricity generation, the
Government is still promoting incineration as a source of green energy.
What is required is return to the boldness of the Strategy Unitâs policy,
and a shift of finance and incentives towards composting and recycling. Climate
Change policy calls for it. The Government should respect the evidence, free
itself from the disposal centred waste industry, and complete the work that
was left half finished after the Strategy Unitâs Review.
The Zero Waste Alliance
7 WRAP, Environmental Benefits of Recycling. An international review of
life cycle comparisons for key materials in the UK recycling sector, May 2006.
The study was based on a comparative review of 55 international life cycle
studies, assessing 200 scenarios.
__ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref1) The National Audit Office
report notes that PFI deals take longer to bring to financial close than
other types of procurement, and that after nine years, only six residual waste
plants are in place or under construction.
__ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref2) Defra (2006) Review of
Englandâs Waste Strategy: A Consultation Document, February 2006. Its wording
is: âEfW reduces emissions of greenhouse gases in two ways: because the
wastes could otherwise go to landfill and generate methane; and because emissions
from the biomass fraction of the waste, which are carbon-neutral, are likely
to replace those from fossil generation.â p.60
__ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref3) Eunomia, A Changing
Climate for Energy from Waste, Friends of the Earth, May 2006.
__ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref4) Eunomia, op.cit. By 2020
forecast advances in power station technology and the growing proportion of
plastic in residual waste means that energy only incinerators will be 78% worse
than gas power stations, and broadly comparable even to new or refitted coal
power stations. The Eunomia report contains a valuable critique of the ERM
Report for DEFRA which has been used to justify the Governmentâs incinerator
policy, see pp.74 sq. and ERM (2006) Impact of Energy from Waste and
Recycling Policy on UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Final Report for Defra, January 2006.
__ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref5) Eunomia, p6
__ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref6) DEFRAâs lack of clarity on
MBT residues and composting requirements is a further discouragement to
disposal authorities seeking an alternative to incineration.
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