Incineration proposals incompatible with UK net-zero and recycling targets

In a report released last week (16 July), XR Zero Waste has called for urgent government action to prevent the realisation of 50 new incinerators in the UK.

Government planning approval has already been obtained for the proposed plants, 17 of which are scheduled to become operational by 2025.

In the report, XR Zero Waste highlighted the incompatibilities between these proposals and the UK Government’s environmental goals.

If built, the 50 new plants would cause incineration CO2 emissions to rise from 5.5 to 15 million tonnes.

As a result, total waste sector emissions would increase to 28 million tonnes by 2035, instead of dropping below 16 million tonnes, as required by the Climate Change Committee’s net-zero pathway for the sector.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, however, recently claimed that the Government’s waste strategy is designed so that ‘ultimately, there will be less [waste] going to incineration’.

The report outlined a series of urgent recommendations to align waste incineration with recycling and net-zero targets.

Measures such as the introduction of an EfW incineration tax, the restriction of EfW incinerators to burning only low-carbon feedstock, reassessment of existing EfW planning permissions, and the introduction of a carbon charge, the report says, could reduce the environmental impact of waste incineration.