UK incinerators will cause nearly £25bn of environmental harm over the next 30 years by burning plastics, a report from environmental campaigners has claimed.
Anti-incinerator group United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) said it looked at the output of the country’s 42 incinerators.
It calculated that nearly 11m tonnes of carbon dioxide was put into the atmosphere in 2017, around 5m tonnes of which was fossil-based materials such as plastic.
Its report Evaluation of the Climate Change Impacts of Waste Incineration in the United Kingdom said that over the next 30 years releasing fossil CO2 from incinerators would cause more than £25bn pounds worth of harm.
The figure is based on UKWIN’s calculation using Government estimates on the costs involved in mitigating pollution.
It estimated each tonne of plastic incinerated results in the release of around 1.43 tonnes of CO2.
A typical waste incinerator built in 2020 would release 2.8m tonnes of fossil CO2 over its 30-year lifetime.
UKWIN associate co-ordinator Josh Dowen said: “The study shows waste is a rubbish feedstock for generating energy.
“Burning large quantities of plastics gives rise to a small amount of electricity that comes with a high climate cost. To add insult to injury, those profiting from waste incineration are not paying for the huge cost to society of emitting all these greenhouse gases, and so a UK-wide waste incineration tax is long overdue”.
Swindon Borough Council has proposed temporarily stopping recycling mixed plastics and send it to energy-from-waste instead.
Swindon said this is because of uncertainty over exports and other markets.