Horsham residents, who are fighting plans for a waste incinerator near the town, have international backing. Delegates from 28 organisations across 24 European countries, meeting recently in Brussels at the Zero Waste Europe AGM, sent a visual message of solidarity to No Incinerator 4 Horsham.
Zero Waste Europe is a network of grassroots groups, headquartered in Brussels, which has made significant progress in strengthening emerging EU policy on the Circular Economy and resource management. It has advised local authorities around Europe on how to achieve dramatic improvements in recycling, publishing case studies, and facilitating study visits by council officers. The membership of Zero Waste Europe is united in opposing waste incineration as contra to a Circular Economy.
Two UK delegates attended the Brussels meeting, one from Zero Waste Derry (there is a growing number of Zero Waste groups around the country), the other from UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN), which has around 100 member groups opposing existing (or planned) waste incinerators.
Neil Pitcairn, a director of UKWIN, said: “There are ample reasons to oppose incineration, apart from the local factors in the Horsham and Warnham areas, such as industrialisation of a rural area. There is an established correlation between depressed recycling rates and incinerator use, and a looming surplus capacity of waste disposal infrastructure in the UK. Already there is surplus incinerator capacity in mainland Northern Europe, which has led countries like Germany, Holland and Sweden to import waste to burn or face shutting down their district heating systems. We are entering the era of incinerator decommissioning, to allow recycling to continue to grow. Now is not the time to build a new one in Horsham.”
At national level, the tide also seems to be changing against incineration. DEFRA’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Boyd said in January 2018, giving evidence to EFRACOM: “I think that incineration, and this is a personal view, I think incineration is not a good direction to go in. I think that if you are investing many tens of millions, hundreds of millions, in urban waste incineration plants – and those plants are going to have a 30 to 40 year lifespan – you have to have the waste streams to keep them supplied. Now that is the market pull on waste, so it encourages the production of waste, it encourages the production of residual waste, it encourages people to think that we can throw what could be potentially valuable materials (if we were to think about them innovatively) into a furnace and burn them.”
Neil Pitcairn added: “Given that one tonne of waste burnt gives off one tonne of CO2, it makes no sense to use incineration to generate electricity, so inefficiently, when we are trying to decarbonise our energy supplies”.