Bexley Borough Council have been the flagship London borough for recycling for the last 15 years. Not only is recycling good for the environment, it saves Bexley’s Council taxpayers an estimated £3.6m1 in waste management costs a year (compared to the alternative costs of collection and incineration) and generates income from sales of glass, paper and other recycled materials and raises funds for charities. Bexley Council are concerned increased levels of incineration will result in less recycling. Incineration of some materials which could otherwise be recycled can also release toxic substances. For example carpets produce heavy metals (lead and mercury), acid gases and particulate matter2. Cory confirmed at the Environmental Matters Hearing on 6th June 2019 that only random checks are made of waste deliveries. This means it is possible that recyclable materials are being incinerated.
1 Figure obtained from letsrecycle.com
2 Smoke and Mirrors: Exposing the reality of carpet ‘recycling’ in the UK
There are also concerns that more waste will be sent for incineration because local authorities will be tied into incineration contracts and also because incineration does not incur any tax (unlike landfill). These and other matters were discussed generally during a Westminster Hall debate secured by John Grogan MP who is calling for a moratorium on incinerators. A recording of the debate can be found here
The building of more incinerators is in direct conflict with the Government’s resources and waste strategy for England which seeks to preserve material resources by minimising waste, promote resource efficiency and move towards a circular economy. Further information can be found here