Concerns have been raised by industry experts that the recent rush to build incinerators to lessen the amount of UK waste going to landfill could have an adverse effect on the efforts being made to encourage more people to recycle. Incinerators have been seen as a viable answer to disposing of waste at the same time as producing heat and electricity for homes and commercial settings, however early results of this suggest that this is at the detriment of recycling, with recent figures suggesting a fall in recycling rates for the first time in 30 years.
The need to meet directives implemented by the EU in recent years has meant that the UK has had to make significant efforts to move away from the once staple method of waste disposal in the form of landfill and look for more environmentally friendly alternatives. The results of this have been encouraging to date with just under 47 million tonnes of waste sent to landfill in 2012 compared to the 84 million sent in 2001, and whilst increased recycling has formed a big part of this, there has also been a steady increase in the use of incineration facilities.
Although much of the UK waste sent to incineration facilities has been sent abroad previously, a rising number of facilities are being built across the UK which experts fear could lead to us having greater incineration capacity than is actually required. As a result of this, councils, businesses and many other organisations may feel more inclined to keep providing the facilities with waste to ensure the cost of installation is made the most of, as opposed to sorting through waste to determine what can be recycled.
Following these fears being raised, a spokesperson from Defra reiterated that landfill or incineration should be a last resort, stating: “We have been clear with local authorities that incineration must not compete with recycling or ways of reducing the amount of waste we produce.”
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Only time will tell as to the impact more incinerators will have on rates of recycling, however what we do know is that here at Unisan we are always striving to encourage businesses to improve their rates of recycling in the workplace, with our effective range of bins & recycling systems.