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War of words over energy-from-waste overcapacity figures

The Environmental Services Association has slammed figures released today which claim the UK will reach overcapacity in energy-from-waste infrastructure by 2020 as ‘flawed’.

The latest version of the Residual Waste Review by consultants Eunomia predicts residual waste treatment capacity in the UK will exceed the available amount of non-recyclable waste by 2020-21.

It also claims that if all the energy-from-waste facilities to operate at full capacity, they would limit the UK’s recycling rate to no more than 63%, even if was no more waste was exported was exported to other countries.

The report also states that Since 2009-10, the UK has more than doubled its residual waste treatment capacity, which has increased from 6.3 million tonnes to 13.5 million tonnes.

But over the same period, the amount of non-recyclable waste suitable for treatment has fallen from an estimated 30 million tonnes per annum to around 26 million.

‘Our latest report shows that the UK continues inexorably towards the point where we have more residual waste treatment capacity than we need,’ said report author, Harriet Parke.

‘If facilities already in construction are built, and only these, we think the UK could still recycle some 63 per cent of waste, but if just 40% of what is in planning was also built, the recycling rate could be further limited to 57%.’

But the executive director of the Environmental Services Association, Jacob Hayler, said the findings in Eunomia’s report are flawed and have been ‘contradicted by report after report from everyone else who’s looked at our residual waste treatment needs’.

‘Its earlier reports suggested that we would already have reached overcapacity today – and it is galling that they continue to repeat the message when we are crying out for more investment in our industry,’ said Hayler.

‘The consensus position on waste treatment is that we will end up over five million tonnes short of energy from waste capacity by 2030. This is what the government needs to understand if it is not to sleepwalk into a capacity crisis.’

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