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Burning issue of incinerator increase

Municipal waste engineers received mixed messages when the Government's new waste management strategy was introduced at an ICE conference last week. ICE News was at the seminar - A Way Forward with Waste

OVER 160 waste incinerators could be needed in the UK by 2020 if Britain was to comply with the EU landfill directive, a top Department of Environment Transport and the Regions official told a meeting at the ICE last week.

Incinerators would be needed to reach the target of reducing biodegradable municipal waste to landfill to 35% of the current total if commercial recycling markets failed to emerge, said DETR Head of Waste Management Lissette Simcock.

Setting out the Government's new draft waste strategy A Way With Waste for sustainable waste management over the next 20 years, she said: 'We need these facilities and to get them will mean a lot of planning and dialogue with local communities. The number of incinerators we will need will depend on whether or not waste levels continue to rise by 3% a year and the level of recycling that we can achieve.'

A survey of local authorities had found that out of 130mtpa of waste produced currently in the UK, 8% is recycled or composted, 6% incinerated and 85% goes to landfill, said Simcock.

Government's action plan to start diverting 6mtpa from landfill included projects to foster an improved collaboration between waste disposal and waste collection authorities.

Additional resources to local authority waste management in the next Comprehensive Spending Review would be considered to fund moves towards integrated waste management.

'Each step should be part of the whole and involve all the key players - community, industry, waste sector. Consider the mixture of facilities. Over reliance on one option may put you at risk,' said Simcock. Ring fenced funding for local authorities from the Landfill Tax and other sources of funding, would be considered.

But the document warns that if these initiatives fail to deliver significant improvements in co-operation between district and county councils, the forming of single-tier waste management authorities would be considered.

Simcock admitted that recycling targets of 40% of the total by 2005, 45% by 2010 and 66% by 2015 would not be met unless the recycling market became commercially stronger. Key recommendations from the recyclate market development report included action to 'stabilise the markets and reduce price volatility, including mechanisms for price guarantees, the adoption of long term contracts rather than spot prices'. Use of recycled goods would also be prioritised in the Government's own purchasing policies.

Other Government issues flagged up by Simcock were a £7M national waste awareness campaign - Are you doing your bit? - an advertising campaign featuring TV presenter Zoe Ball and ex-footballer George Best among others. The campaign aimed to promote the difference that individuals make by recycling their waste. A joint DETR/DTI campaign would soon be launched to develop waste minimisation strategies.

Deadline for public response to A Way With Waste would need to be with DETR by 17 September, said Simcock. The final Government waste strategy would be developed by the end of the year.

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