A study has suggested there should be more focus on assessing waste infrastructure on a regional basis and on single waste streams.
Commissioned by Veolia Environmental Services and undertaken by Imperial College London, the report says that rather than aggregating needs across the entirety of the country and drawing conclusions from aggregated data, there should be more decision making based on regional need.
The report also says that in estimating future waste infrastructure needs, it is important to understand and take into account the relevant element of the waste stream.
With municipal waste streams being a complex mix of many differing materials, this must not be considered a single stream according to the study, and using data on waste composition should give local authorities more information on making the best use of infrastructure and new additional facilities.
Infrastructure gaps were also found at regional levels that resulted in material being transported from one end of the country to another.
Veolia Environmental Services technical director Richard Kirkman said: “Today’s report by researchers at Imperial College London and commissioned by Veolia, reveals significant capacity gaps in regional infrastructure to treat valuable materials which arise as wastes and could be reused to create new materials and energy.
“The report crystallises concerns that instead of being at the forefront of the circular economy, we will have insufficient resources recovery infrastructure in the future and hamper the growth of the green manufacturing sector – a 20 year mistake!
“By taking a regional approach focusing on individual waste streams not en masse, regional treatment facilities close to where they arise and the use of appropriate technologies, the flaws in national aggregated methodology are revealed.
“To make the dangerous assumption that we have sufficient waste infrastructure ‘on average’ means we could have too many of the wrong facilities in one place and too few of the right facilities in another. Only local planning can determine actual needs to avoid transporting waste long distances at considerable environmental and economic cost.”