London report calls for less incineration and more AD

ADBA has welcomed a report published by the London Assembly’s Environment Committee that describes incineration of household waste as one of the ‘least desirable forms of management in the waste hierarchy’.

The report states that the amount of waste sent for incineration has more than doubled in the last decade, reaching nearly two million tonnes in 2017. It also notes that burning waste takes materials out of the circular economy, releases carbon into the atmosphere, and may have negative health effects. The report goes on to say that because not all London boroughs offer separate food waste collections, food waste is being burnt rather going to other processes which are more environmentally beneficial, such as AD, which recycles food waste into renewable energy, low-carbon transport fuel, and nutrient-rich biofertiliser. The report describes anaerobic digesters in London as ‘under-utilised’, with only a very small proportion of waste going to digesters which are not operating at full capacity.

ABDA agrees with these conclusions. Local authorities sending waste to incineration currently have no incentive to encourage householders to separate their recycling, while introducing separate food waste collections would allow food waste to be properly recycled through AD, producing not only renewable heat and power and low-carbon transport fuel but also nutrient-rich biofertiliser, vital to restoring the UK’s depleted soils. This report only serves to strengthen the case for the UK Government to finally introduce mandatory separate food waste collections across England to emulate the success seen in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The government has set itself a target of diverting all food waste from landfill by 2030, but it will find this target impossible to meet without separate food waste collections.

Charlotte Morton is going to City Hall soon to meet with the Environment Committee Chairwoman, Leonie Cooper AM to highlight how greater use of AD can help London meet its environmental aims.

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Tags: anaerobic digestion, food waste operators, food waste, renewable financial incentives, London, clean air, incineration