Written by Dave Pettener, member of Stop the Incinerator.
I recently put up a poster on line in response to the council’s latest recycling campaign entitled ‘KER-CHING’. You may have seen the posters around, if not you can see the poster below. It’s one of a series that proclaim how much money we are saving by recycling.
This is the same council who have also agreed to a plan for Viridor to burn our rubbish. The issue I have with their poster is a simple one: the rubbish will not be properly sorted before it goes in to the incinerator, therefore, rubbish that could be recycled, re-used or treated in less harmful ways will get burned.
And so I came up with a response that played on the wording of their posters. However, I was advised by our legal team that the poster I had made might be ‘problematic’ and I withdrew it.
Originally I had put that Viridor would be making £5 billion profit from burning our rubbish and this is not correct.
If Viridor’s incinerators in Cardiff, Runcorn and Sutton all go ahead they will have contracts worth nearly £6 billion from burning rubbish that could otherwise be treated in less harmful ways. (1)
I appreciate that the Kerching poster campaign is a local one and so I have changed my version to reflect this. I hope you enjoy it!
Below are more posters I have done in response to previous recycling campaigns. They show what will happen to our recycling if the incinerator is built.
How do Viridor make their Millions?
Viridor tie councils in to long term fixed base load contracts which guarantee them a set amount of rubbish to burn for a set amount of time. This means that regardless of how little rubbish we produce, we have to ensure there is enough of it for them to burn. This can be achieved by burning recyclables or by importing more and more rubbish from outside the area.
Viridor will charge a certain amount per tonne of waste that comes through their site known as gate fees. You can see what the average gate fees are in the latest WRAP report here and in the table below.
EFW’s (incinerators) can charge the most per tonne compared to other forms of waste treatment; which might explain why Viridor offered this up as the only solution to our waste problem!
An MRF (Material Recovery Facility) is where the rubbish is properly sorted. Not only is this the cheapest option it also creates 10 times more jobs and means the full value can be extracted from the rubbish.
Put simply, only once you have sorted the rubbish do you know what you need to do with it – whether that’s turning it in to a new product or putting it in to IVC (In vessel composting) or AD (Anaerobic Digestion) both of which can create energy and produce an inert product at the end – compost.
With 90% of all rubbish being recyclable or re-usable at the very least we would have to burn a considerably smaller amount than is being suggested at the moment.
Now that the EU is pushing for 70% recycling incinerating rubbish that could otherwise be recycled is not the way forward. Especially when there is already an over-capacity of waste treatment facilities, why build more?
The rest of Viridor’s £990 million contract comes from money given to them by the government for producing renewable energy. However, we argue that something which produces toxic emissions, hazardous waste and very little energy for the amount of fuel stock it requires is not the way forward and should not be rewarded.
Waste incinerators hardly perform any better than conventional fossil fuelled power stations and in some cases worse.
(1) £1.1 Billion Cardiff: http://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/councils/viridor-signs-25-year-prosiect-gwyrdd-efw-deal
£3.8 Billion Runcorn: http://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/energy/viridor-to-begin-operations-at-runcorn-efw
£990 Million Sutton: http://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/waste-management/viridor-signs-ps990-million-south-london-efw-contract