Throughout this process we have repeatedly been told that Europe has incinerators therefore they must be a good thing and we should get them. Europe is now turning their back on waste incineration and the latest high profile figure to talk out against it is the French Environment Minister Ségolène Royal.
You can watch the video, or if you’re French is as good as mine then the translation is below! All of this comes courtesy of Zero Waste Europe.
In a radioshow of the nationwide radio station France Inter, in which the audience directly intervenes, Ségolène Royal, was confronted with serious interrogations about the French waste treatment system, the lack of recycling and current incineration projects.
Here is the English transcript of her surprisingly positive reply:
Question from Anthony (a listener):
“My question concerns household waste. First of all, I would like to know your opinion on household waste treatment in France; secondly I would like to know what you think about the absence (or quasi-absence) of recycling in France; and finally I would like to know your opinion about the incinerator project in Echillais [a commune in Charentes-Maritimes, “Western France, where Ségolène Royal comes from].”
“First of all, incinerators are an outdated technology; nowadays we have to move towards a zero waste society. What does this mean, “a zero waste society”? (By the way, on the occasion of the new energy transition law I am launching a call for projects so that agglomerations and intercommunal bodies (there will be ten of them) become engaged in a zero waste approach, as the city of San Francisco is doing.) So it [zero waste] means that all kinds of waste can become raw materials and [we can go towards zero waste] first of all by reducing them at the source, and then doing intelligent waste separation and finally by using waste to produce energy. This is the case of methanizers in the agricultural sector, where the waste of the agricultural production is used to produce biogas, which reduces waste and pollution- it avoids to pollute the soils, the air and the water- and saves energy because it is waste that is used for methanization.
This is also possible for household waste, especially for putrescible waste which can be transformed into gas. Today, we have an extraordinary technological evolution so that we mandatorily have to stop incineration and move towards recycling methods. This is also called a circular economy which means that nothing is lost but everything gets transformed, under the condition that the products are designed from the cradle to the end of their lives in such a way that all components are recyclable. This is a great sign of hope because not only there will be fewer costs for waste treatment, which will lower our bills, but at the same time we will also protect our planet by causing less pollution.”
Journalist: “And the incinerator project in Echillais?”
Sègolène Royal: “I am obviously against this project because it is about an incinerator. There are many much more environmentally friendly and intelligent technologies in the fields of waste collection and transformation into energy, than incinerators. “