No to incineration

SIR – Incineration of household waste is not a green option (Mrs Saint-Leitner s letter Comet April 23), and is strongly opposed by environmental groups including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace because it: Perpetuates Climate Change by releasing as C

SIR - Incineration of household waste is not a green option (Mrs Saint-Leitner's letter Comet April 23), and is strongly opposed by environmental groups including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace because it:

Perpetuates Climate Change by releasing as CO2 the carbon trapped in the plastics and organic matter. Recycling and waste minimisation saves four times more greenhouse gas emissions than incineration with 'energy recovery'. The energy recovered from burning the waste is far less than went into making the materials that are burnt; furthermore plastic is a fossil fuel. The claim that the Vienna incinerator 'saved 956,000 tonnes of CO2' is just plain wrong, because it ignores all the CO2 produced in making the plastic and other materials incinerated and it destroys valuable materials that could be recycled into new products. Recycling saves far more energy than is created by burning waste as it avoids having to make products from virgin materials.

It does not provide an incentive for reducing waste, because incinerators need a minimum amount of rubbish to operate efficiently. Contracts for incinerators tend to be for 25-30 years, and they stop high rates of recycling because they need the paper and plastics to burn.

It also causes pollution, often in already polluted areas. There are a number of health concerns associated with both air emissions from incinerators and the solid waste (ash) that is produced.


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The answer to our waste problems is to reduce and eventually get rid of everything that cannot be used or recycled (as is the aim in Canberra, Toronto, San Francisco, New Zealand and elsewhere). In the meantime we should select lower cost flexible means of dealing with un-recycled waste (which can also produce clean energy), rather then choosing incineration which perpetuates the problem of waste.

DAVID ASHTON

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(HertsWithOutWaste)

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