DEFINING WASTE as a resource and the possibility of a zero waste culture in Wales was at the heart of a heated debate in Cardiff last week.
What was billed as a discussion of the Welsh Assembly Government's (WAG) waste strategy review spiralled into a volatile argument on how best to deal with waste over the next 20 years.
The panel debate at the sixth annual ICE Wales waste management conference was given greater gravity by last week's decision by MEPs to ban the land filling of paper, glass, textiles, plastic and metal in the European Union by 2015, with no recyclable waste being sent to landll by 2020.
In a keynote speech to the conference, WAG environment and enterprise deputy minister Tamsin Dunwoody suggested incineration as the solution to making Wales a zero waste culture.
This was disputed by Friends of the Earth Cymru's Julian Rosser, who argued that energy from waste facilities that produce electricity create more carbon dioxide than gas-fired power stations and was not the answer if Wales was serious about climate change.
However, Rosser did concede that incinerators that produce heat as well as electricity were more ef ent than gas-fired power stations.
WAG waste strategy unit head Andy Rees said that zero waste in Wales in the next 20 years was unlikely to mean 100% recycling. 'We have been looking at 75% recycling as a maximum, ' he said.
'The last thing we want is energy from waste plants with redundant capacity.' Welsh Community Recycling Network chief executive Mal Williams said that zero waste in Wales was an easily achievable target, it was just a question of what is defined as waste and what is dened as a resource.
However, Welsh Local Government Association waste adviser Mark Williams said such ambitious targets would remain out of reach unless more was spent on waste.
'I've just had to cut between £300,000 and £500,000 out of my budget because there are problems with funding for education and social services, ' he said.
'Unless the public purse accepts that an increase in council tax is needed to fund waste then we will have a log jam.'