Landfill vs EfW
The Plastic Disposal Problem
Although, as a society, we are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of appropriate and effective waste management; this does not come without it’s challenges. The next step is deciding the best methods to deal with the waste problems we face; balancing the pros and cons of each. An example of such a problem centres around plastics disposal, with respect to landfill and energy from waste (EfW).
London Mayor, Sadiq khan, has criticised recent plans from Cory Riverside Energy, who plan to build a new EfW facility in South-East London. Instead, Khan recommended focussing on improving London’s recycling.
Khan said “London’s air is a toxic air crisis” and that “Emissions from incinerators are bad for our health, bad for our environment and bad for our planet”. Khan then urged ministers to reject the proposal for the new plant.
The Environmental Services Association (ESA) however, strongly disagreed with the London Mayor’s stance, with Executive Director Jacob Hayler critical of the Mayor’s position on the issue.
“It is a shame that the mayor of London is so ill-informed about the role and benefits of EfW facilities as part of a circular economy,” he said. ”These facilities are vital for preventing non-recyclable wastes from ending up in landfill.”
“Contrary to the mayor’s statement, the emissions from these plants are among the most tightly regulated of any industrial installations in Europe, and therefore the world.”
“The proposed development would bring investment and jobs to London and would save more than 200kg of CO2 for every tonne of material diverted from landfill. It is a win-win for the environment and the economy.”
“We sincerely hope, for the benefit of Londoners, that this investment in much-needed new waste treatment capacity is granted.” 
A important takeaway from this debate is the importance of making informed decisions when it comes to waste management – over simplification can result in dramatic consequences. While an increased focus on recycling is extremely important, we must also be conscious of our non-recyclable waste, aiming to minimise this as much as possible, while maximising that which can be recycled. Clearly, there is a vital need for effort in correctly processing and classifying plastics in order to meet the correct recycling standards.
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