Waste expert criticises Hatfield incinerator proposals

PUBLISHED: 10:02 22 May 2011 | UPDATED: 11:52 26 May 2011

Dr Connet

Dr Connet

Archant

INCINERATION is "an expensive, non-sustainable and inflexible" method of waste disposal and there are much better alternatives, according to a world-leading expert on waste management.

Prof Connett’s Zero Waste 2020

1) Source Separation (separating paper, glass, plastics, etc. before sending for recycling)

2) Door-to-door collection

3) Composting

4) Recycling

5) Reuse and repair

6) Waste reduction initiatives

7) Economic incentives (financial rewards for recycling and composting)

8) Building residual separation and research centres (built at entrance of landfill site and separating, studying and recycling materials)

9) Better industrial design (if it can’t be re-used, it shouldn’t be made)

10) Temporary landfill

With Hertfordshire County Council’s hated incinerator scheme destined for Hatfield’s New Barnfield site, Professor Paul Connett, a Cambridge University graduate who has travelled the world lecturing on waste management, visited the town to give a talk on the shortfalls of incineration.

And he also outlined his “Zero Waste 2020” strategy, an idealistic 10-step programme which aims to eliminate waste within the next 10 years.

Before his talk at the Jim McDonald Centre, Prof Connett visited the Welwyn Hatfield Times offices in Howardsgate, WGC, to explain why incineration is unnecessary.

“Incineration is a non-sustainable solution, and it’s incredibly expensive,” Prof Connett said.

“Over its lifetime it costs between £0.5bn to £1bn, and it’s totally inflexible.

“It assumes nothing’s going to change in the next 25 years, but with more people recycling and reusing already, they will eventually have to import waste from further afield too justify it.

“They call it energy from waste, but in reality it’s just a waste of money.”

Prof Connett said Hertfordshire County Council’s preference for incineration was because of the “ridiculous” surcharges placed on landfill, which makes incineration look like a cheaper alternative.

“In England, you’ve got this ridiculous situation where you’re charged £48 per ton of landfill.

“It’s thrown the county council into a tizzy, and what’s happening is this surcharge is making the most expensive solution to waste look like a money-saving alternative.”

Prof Connett, who spent 26 years lecturing at St Lawrence University in Canton, New York, where he specialised in environmental chemistry and toxicology, said instead of surcharges, rebates should be handed out as an incentive to reduce waste and to recycle.

And he delivered a message to manufacturers around the world designed to make huge incinerators like the one coming to Hatfield a thing of the past.

“If you can’t reuse it, recycle it, or compost it, then you shouldn’t be making it,” he said.

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