Reacting today to reports that councils are set to proceed with plans for up to 17 new waste incinerators across Scotland in order to avoid falling foul of a European directive to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, Greens said that the new SNP government will face a test of their commitment to greening government as it will make the final decision whether to approve the proposals.
The previous Lib. Dem./Labour Executive favoured incineration with Lib. Dem. Environment Minister committing £20m towards waste plans that included incinerators just before the election in May. Greens have been alerting the Scottish people to these plans for months.
Greens say that moves towards more incineration will undermine efforts to reduce waste volumes and to increase recycling rates. The SNP has committed itself to supporting the Green Party policy of a ‘zero waste strategy’ which would also be undermined by a new wave of incinerators
Robin Harper MSP said:
“Using the sky as a landfill site is not the answer to our waste problem. The problem is the amount of waste we produce in the first place and we need to reduce that, and make products with ‘zero waste’ in mind. That is the way forward. Incinerators, especially if operated as private businesses, will be hungry for as much rubbish to burn as possible to make them profitable. That sends entirely the wrong signal. The SNP Environment Minister has signalled an interest in our policy of a ‘zero waste strategy’ for Scotland. He now has the opportunity to show he is committed to it by refusing to fund waste plans with major incinerators included.”
Zero Waste is an approach used in many other countries which have achieved major reductions in waste volumes and increases in recycling rates way above Scotland’s very low level of 25%.
“One ton of mixed household ‘rubbish’ has the potential to provide £700 worth of recycled/manufactured product. Landfill is a cost, incineration through ‘waste to energy’ will just about cover the cost of transport, and under the highly centralised pattern proposed, will waste up to 50% of the heat energy produced. At the same time this will tie in our waste resource use programme into supplying the very costly installations with fuel for the next 25 years, diverting valuable potential resources away from recycling opportunities that await them. This will set back the development of a zero waste policy by a quarter of a century.”