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Talking rubbish


Antony Oliver calls on engineers to move beyond obvious solutions to the UK's waste management problems (NCE 23 February).

Unfortunately, he appears to misunderstand why we need a £10bn plus investment in new infrastructure.

Energy from waste is an indigenous and renewable means of increasing diversity of supply. ICE's 2005 report, Quantification of the Potential Energy from Residuals, demonstrated that the UK could generate 10% of its electricity from post recycling waste by 2020.

The key challenge for the 21st century, underpinning both energy and waste policy, is climate change.

ICE is leading the debate by explaining what it means in terms of new infrastructure.

Our new report, The Case For a Resource Management Strategy argues that any targets for recycling and energy from waste should be grounded in the CO2 emissions related to different recovery and recycling options. Only this way can we deliver our twin goals of resource efficiency and environmental protection.

The implication that we can reach these goals without new infrastructure is naîve and misleading. Reduction is crucial but won't fill the multi million tonne gap left by the closure of the landfill option.

Recycling will fill a large part of this gap but cannot do so without a huge investment in new plant. To really treat our waste as a resource, the UK needs a new infrastructure network on the scale of the national grid.

Nigel Mattravers, chairman, ICE Waste Management Board, 1 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AA

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