Welsh AM Mike Hedges argues landfill is better than incineration

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
An artist's impression of Wheelabrator's EfW plant in Deeside
It's understandable that people can think that, and throughout the 4 months I've worked in the ...

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Sending rubbish to landfill is better than burning it in incinerators, according to Welsh AM Mike Hedges.

The chairman of the assembly’s environment committee said the Welsh government should ban any new plants from being developed other than for burning medical waste.

He described incineration as a ‘dangerous way of getting rid of waste materials.’

Hedges, who has previously campaigned against an incinerator in his Swansea East constituency, said his main concern was around emissions.

He said: “Hospitals need them, they have to get rid of pathogens in some of the medical waste but there’s no reason why domestic waste needs to be incinerated. Can we get on with reduction rather than looking for ways of getting rid of more and more waste? I believe we can.”

There are currently two Energy from Waste (EfW) plants in operation in Wales, with another two having been built and ready to go live in Barry Dock and Deeside.

Wheelabrator Parc Adfer said the Deeside plant will serve five local authorities and ensure the facility’s fuel supply is hedged at fixed prices.

Both sites have been met with community protests due to concerns over emissions and pollutants.

Six more proposals are currently in the planning process at various stages.

National campaign Recycle for Wales supports EfW technology, arguing landfill is not a sustainable option for dealing with the country’s rubbish.

The Welsh government has set a target to recycle 70% of municipal waste and send no more than 5% to landfill by 2025.

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It's understandable that people can think that, and throughout the 4 months I've worked in the waste industry the usefulness and effectiveness of EfW has deteriorated in my view. I completely agree that the rate of which the facilities are popping up is ridiculous and that we need to be focusing on the reuse and reduce of waste (following the waste hierachy). However, particularly in South Wales and Swansea they send a huge amount of waste in comparison with the rest of the UK to landfill. Yes, Swansea has very high recycling rates however you are always going to have waste that can't be recycled and for the closest EfW facility to be in Cardiff surely the emissions from transport is something to be avoided. I think there is a future for EfW. It supports the 'Circular Economy' in using waste as a product (energy). In relation to the emissions released, I recently came across a company called OCO technology who collect the APCr from EfW facilities and turn them into a product. They are the only company to be in a Carbon deficit and are really a company to look out for as waste becomes more and more of a talked about issue.

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