Energy Recovery not harming recycling rates, says Environmental Services Association


There is not enough evidence that increasing the number of energy from waste plants undermines recycling rates, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) has said.

Pointing to contradictory reports from various environmental consultancies, ESA director general Barry Dennis said: “The UK still landfills 20 million tonnes of rubbish from households and businesses every year, and if we are serious about creating a circular economy (where waste is valued as a resource rather than something that needs to be disposed of), then this has to stop.


“Some of our rubbish can and should be recycled, and investment in recycling facilities up and down the country is being made by ESA members. But a significant amount cannot be recycled and it is this residual waste which energy from waste plants are designed to treat.”

He noted that Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden all have much higher levels of both recycling and energy recovery than the UK.

Reports from Eunomia suggesting that the UK is heading towards over-capacity in EfW facility have been questioned, including by consultancy Ricardo-AEA he said.

He added: “We all want to see recycling rates increase, and we should be aspiring to the 60-70 per cent levels seen in the best EU countries. But we also need to deal with non-recyclable rubbish and EfW plants do this while also generating the energy the country needs.”