Thursday, 1 August 2013

Wealth from Waste - the Local Government Association

My column in this week’s Cornish Guardian revisits the issue of waste. It is as follows:

My views on waste management in Cornwall are well-known. For many years, I campaigned against the former County Council’s desire to build a massive incinerator in Clay Country.

And I remain disappointed that the leadership of the unitary authority chose to push ahead with this so-called “energy-from-waste” plant, and retain it at the very centre of its approach to dealing with Cornwall’s domestic waste.

Central government and the courts may have ruled that the incinerator should be built, the unitary authority may have re-signed a multi-million-pound “integrated waste management contract” with SITA, and the new road to the site may be nearing completion.

But I still maintain that the whole approach is unsustainable and I was very interested to read a wide-ranging new report from the influential Local Government Association (LGA) on the subject of waste.

Titled “Wealth from Waste,” it makes the case that a greater focus on recycling makes waste management more sustainable and saves money.

The LGA report shows that dealing with dry recycling generates an income of £36 per tonne, whereas the treatment of organic material through composting would cost £25-£44 per tonne. Incineration meanwhile costs £82 per tonne while landfill costs £93 per tonne.

Cornwall’s recycling rate for municipal waste is only 38% - just think what money could be saved if we could match the higher recycling rates, of 60%-plus, achieved in countries such as Austria and Germany.

The LGA report also demonstrates that recycling creates jobs. It states that: “The number of jobs in recycling can be anything from 59 and 112 per 10,000 tonnes of material processed, compared to 10 or 11 for landfill or energy from waste.”

In fact, the foreword says it all really: “The simple fact is that taxpayers would be better off, the economy will benefit, and more people will have jobs if we grow the domestic market for collecting, sorting and reprocessing recycling. Landfilling waste costs a lot of money; burning it is still expensive; recycling actually brings in cash for the taxpayer and we owe it to today’s hard-pressed taxpayers to get as much of their money back as possible.”

The big question for us in Cornwall must be: will the unitary authority have the courage and foresight to look again at its approach to Cornwall’s domestic waste?

1 comment:

craig weatherhill said...

Any financial benefit will go directly to SITA.