Commercial waste strategy will save local authorities millions
- 15 July 2012
- Company & Industry News
Covanta Energy's Managing Director Malcolm Chilton is calling on local authorities and commercial waste producers and managers to take a more pragmatic and joined up approach to waste management. Working together rather than in the traditional "sectoral silos", he says, will not only save local authorities, business waste producers and national government millions in both development and operational costs, but will also contribute to unlocking the inward investment that is essential for the development of the UK's renewable energy infrastructure.
While the UK is on track to meet the European Union's 2020 landfill diversion targets, Malcolm Chilton states that the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) waste sector, which is not subject to such regulations, still sends significant quantities of waste to landfill. This, he says, should now be the target of new policy drivers to encourage more sustainable commercial waste behaviours while simultaneously supporting local authorities in their drive towards zero waste to landfill goals.
"UK local authorities and commercial organisations have made all the easy wins when it comes to diverting waste from landfill. Taking the next step is going to be a bigger challenge in terms of technology deployment, investment and planning. It's clear that in the current economic climate individual organisations will struggle to jump these hurdles alone. And there is no need for them to do so.
"If local authorities put in place waste management strategies that have sufficient capacity to accommodate local or even regional commercial, industrial and construction waste arisings, the economic benefits are considerable. An all-wastes approach can reduce the cost of sustainable waste management by millions, while significantly enhancing environmental performance" he explained.
The benefits of this broader approach to waste management extend beyond the simply financial. Adopting this approach to developing new facilities enables Covanta to invest in and supply renewable and low-carbon energy for progressive projects such as Ince Park in Cheshire which is set to become the UK's premier Eco Park. "There is no doubt that companies like Covanta that look to exploit the energy resource embedded in residual waste are significant to the development of the UK's waste and renewable energy infrastructure," said Malcolm Chilton. "Government energy policy identifies Energy-from-Waste as one of a handful of technologies that are critical to delivering energy security and low carbon objectives. If we are to deliver the full potential of EfW, it we need to exploit resources beyond the household sector that has been the focus of attention for so long, especially the energy value of residual C&I and some construction and demolition waste streams."
The most recent survey of C&I waste in England found arisings of over 44 million tonnes a year. While some 50% is recycled, only 2% of the total goes to EfW. That means well over 20 million tonnes still goes to landfill. On top of that, there is significant energy potential in residual construction and demolition waste. Capturing the energy value of this waste is critical to the EfW sector's ability to contribute to the renewable solution required to maintain the UK's energy equilibrium.
Chilton added; "At Covanta our strategy is for larger scale projects such as Ince Park in Cheshire and Rookery South in Bedfordshire, that will deliver cost effective solutions based on cross sector waste from commercial, industrial, and construction sources. This approach takes into account both fluctuating arisings and improvements in recycling rates across the varied sectors.
"By facilitating merchant capacity, tapping into C&I waste alongside their own residual waste, local authorities can foster the development of highly cost effective and energy efficient new facilities Putting in place EfW facilities that treat local authority waste but also have the capacity to source and treat commercial, industrial and construction waste moves the financial burden away from the authority, while increasing the overall contribution to energy policy objectives."