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Incinerators may be the only way to meet EU landfill targets

UP TO 150 new waste incinerators may have to be built in the UK to handle household and industrial waste barred from landfill sites under the European Union Landfill Directive.

Waste industry bodies and green activists last month warned that without central funding, the recycling targets in the Government's Waste Strategy 2000 paper will be impossible to achieve. It is feared that new incineration infrastructure will be needed to avoid landfill.

In June, the Government published plans to recycle or compost at least 33% of household waste by 2015 as part of its drive to meet EU targets. The amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill must be cut to 35% of 1995 levels by 2020.

But Institute of Wastes Management technical director Chris Murphy warned that for the plans to work, a comprehensive collection and sorting infrastructure was needed. He added that the unstable market for reclaimed materials would make the process unattractive. 'There is potentially hundreds of millions of pounds of construction work to be done.'

Murphy predicted that within a decade the cost of incineration would become highly competitive compared with the escalating cost of landfill. Advances in incinerator technology have now reduced emissions to well within EU safety limits, he claimed.

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