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Press cuttings (ENDS).

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Councils using incinerators look forward to LATS windfall

Cutting waste would boost economy



From the office of the South-East England's Green MEP Caroline Lucas May 17h, 2005


ELIMINATING waste would bring economic and social as well as environmental benefits, Green Euro-MP Caroline Lucas told a conference on Wednesday, May 18th.

Dr Lucas called for the EU to adopt a 'zero waste' strategy and eliminate solid waste by making manufacturers responsible for ensuring their products are designed to be reused, repaired or recycled - rather than disposed of and replaced.

"Such an approach would change the way resources flow through society and would bring economic and social as well as environmental benefits, as is already being seen in India, New Zealand, Australia and the US ,where pioneering zero waste strategies have been adopted," she will say.

"A zero waste strategy will require measures from many sectors of society - government, business and communities - and may take a long time to achieve. But the benefits are clear and, with many of our communities facing waste 'crises' from new toxic incinerators to full landfill sites, there is no time to waste."

Dr Lucas, Green MEP for South-East England and a member of the European Parliament's Environment Committee, will make her comments during a speech to the 'Recipes for Recycling' conference, which has been organised by the Community Recycling Network and takes place in Coventry this week. Other speakers include Environment minister Elliott Morley, Bob Lisney of Hampshire County Council and Friends of the Earth UK Director Tony Juniper. "Britain remains the dirty man of Europe in waste management terms,"

Dr Lucas added. "The UK recycles just 15 per cent of household waste compared with more than 50 per cent in Austria and Germany, and is seeing a new wave of construction of 'energy from waste' incinerators, whose negative health impacts are well documented..

"The presence of a strong Green group in the European Parliament has ensured the EU remains a positive force for regulating the UK's waste management. The next step must be to adopt 'zero waste'."



From The Environmental Data Services (ENDS) report #355, August 2004


Scores of local authorities face tough targets to reduce biodegradable waste landfilling by more than 30% by 2010, under targets released for consultation by the Government in August. However, as a perverse consequence of the forthcoming landfill allowance trading scheme (LATS), 15 authorities that send their waste to incinerators are set to benefit from a windfall from the sale of surplus allowances to other authorities.

Provisional allocations of landfill allowances to the 121 waste disposal authorities (WDAs) in England were published for consultation by the Environment Department (DEFRA) in August.1 The final allocations will be issued later in the year.

Under the landfill allowance trading scheme, authorities must landfill no more biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) than specified in their cap or "allowance" for each year. Those that landfill less than their allowance will be able to sell their unwanted allocation while those that go over their limit will have to buy extra allowances or pay fines of 200 per tonne.

Scheme years will run from April to March, starting in 2005/06 and ending in 2019/20. In Wales, there will be an additional six-month "year", from October 2004, but there will be no trading between councils in Wales.

The three so-called target years - 2009/10, 2012/13 and 2019/20 - coincide with targets under the EU landfill Directive. In these years, the UK must reduce the BMW it sends to landfill to 75%, 50% and 35%, respectively, of the amount landfilled in 1995. National allowances for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for the three target years were set out in regulations in July.  Allowances for English WDAs for 2009/10 and the other target years are based on each authority's percentage contribution to waste arisings in 2001/02 - the scheme's base year - and applying it to the maximum amount of waste that can be landfilled in England in each target year.

But the initial landfill allowances, for 2005/06, are based on the amount of waste each authority landfilled in 2001/02. This means that the allowances for an authority which was sending most of its waste to an incinerator rather than landfill in 2001/02 actually increase, rather than decrease, during this period (see table). Although Government policy is supposed to encourage recycling ahead of incineration, such authorities will effectively be rewarded for having existing incineration contracts by having surplus allowances to sell to other authorities. Moreover, any revenue generated in this way is likely to go into the general coffers rather than being ring-fenced for waste management.

The biggest beneficiary is Birmingham, whose allowances up to 2009/10 will give it an extra 188,000 tonnes on top of its base year allowance. Coventry, North London Waste Authority and Lewisham are also major winners.

In contrast, Greater Manchester must cut the amount of BMW it sends to landfill each year by 300,000 tonnes by 2009/10, even though it already sends some waste to the small Bolton incinerator. Merseyside and West London must reduce their figures by 200,000 tonnes apiece, while Leeds and Western Riverside must cut theirs by around 100,000 tonnes.

East London also faces a cut of 100,000 tonnes but will send much of its waste to six new mechanical/biological treatment plants being built by Shanks.

While the average household waste landfilling rate was 76% in 2002/03, West London landfilled 86%, while North London - which operates the giant Edmonton incinerator in partnership with Sita - landfilled just 47%. North London recycled just 9.6% compared to West London's 13.9%.

The reduction facing many authorities are in excess of 30% of their baseline arisings. This is because the Directive's targets were set using a 1995 baseline whereas local authorities' allowances are set using 2001/02.

During the intervening years the official figures for municipal waste arisings grew rapidly from 24.6 million tonnes in 1996/97 to 28.8 million tonnes in 2001/02, an increase of 17%. Merseyside, Western Riverside and West London are each facing reductions of 35% or more by 2009/10 compared with the 2001/02 baseline.

Continuing growth in waste arisings in some areas also poses major challenges. Authorities in the North East and North West - the only two regions to report municipal waste growth last year above the national average of 1.8% (ENDS Report 352, p 15 ) - are in particular trouble unless they can reverse the trend. The North East reported a rise of 6.4% last year.

The situation has parallels with the windfall of millions of pounds enjoyed by incinerator operators and other packaging waste reprocessors under another market mechanism, the trade in packaging waste recovery notes under the packaging regime.

East Sussex will also see its allowances rise up to 2009/10, but is unique in that it landfills far more currently than it did in the base year of 2001/02. This is because the refuse-derived fuel incinerator at Pebsham shut down in May 2002.

2004 Environmental Data Services (ENDS) Ltd

Further information

* 1 Provisional allocations for all authorities, at DEFRA's website.
* 2 SI No 1936 the Landfill (Scheme Year and Maximum Landfill Amount) Regulations 2004, HMSO, 3.00.

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