Richard Dixon: Last week the Scottish Government published its independent review of incineration. If they follow its recommendations, there will be a huge shake-up of how we deal with materials and waste in Scotland. The review was led for the government by waste and materials expert Colin Church. He was charged with looking at how much incineration capacity Scotland needs. There have been roundtables with industry, councils and communities, and individual meetings with stakeholders, as well as over 1,000 individual responses. While the review was being conducted, there was a moratorium on new incinerator applications being approved. Wales has banned new incinerators and is setting a date to phase out existing ones, but in Scotland we have seen a rash of new plants with an extra eight new incinerators now under construction or with planning permission. In Wales, they are also progressing well towards their target to recycle 70 per cent of waste by 2025, while we are slipping backwards, with the latest Scottish figure for household waste at 42 per cent. Incineration releases climate-wrecking carbon dioxide and hoovers up waste that should be recycled instead. This is particularly true of plastics and cardboard, which burn well. Building an incinerator is a major undertaking and the economics only work if they keep running at full capacity. So an incinerator built today has to be fed for the next 30 years, even if we have done well at reducing waste and recycling more in the meantime. And it will still be belching carbon dioxide in 2045, when Scotland’s climate targets say we are supposed to have reached net-zero emissions. The review concludes that we already have more than enough incineration capacity operating or being built. In fact, by 2027, we will have more incineration capacity than there will be waste available to burn. The review recommends that no more new applications should be allowed.
Scotsman 19th May 2022 read more »