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WASTE AND THE
ENVIRONMENT
Gordon James
Friends of the Earth Cymru
WHY REDUCE WASTE
• Throw away culture – Wastes valuable
resources – Litter
• Harm of mining, processing etc
• Landfill sit...
• The natural environment is our life-
support system providing us with food,
clean air, fresh water, a stable climate,
ra...
RESOURCE LOSS
• Logging, mining, industrial agriculture, fishing,
pollution etc are causing extinction rates not
seen sinc...
INEQUALITY
• Humans today extract and use 50% more
natural resources than just 30 years ago
• A North American consumes, o...
NIGER DELTA
• Oil extraction by Shell in the Niger Delta has
caused widespread environmental damage, ill
health and povert...
RESOURCE WASTE
• In Europe, if recyclable waste in 2004 had
been used instead of being dumped in landfills
or incinerators...
ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT
• Human demands on natural resources are
now outstripping what the Earth can provide
by more than hal...
WASTE IN WALES 2008/09
• Municipal waste produced - 1.7m tonnes
• Landfilled - 1.03m tonnes
• Recycled - 0.43m tonnes
• Co...
LITTER
LANDFILL – NO THANKS
• Complete waste of resources
• Leachate contaminates water courses
• Emits greenhouse gases, mainly ...
A WAY FORWARD
“Nature does not produce waste. In nature, the
waste of one organism or process becomes
the food for another...
WASTE HIERARCHY
EU’s Waste Framework Directive states the
following waste hierarchy should be applied
a)Prevention
b)Reuse...
CO2 IMPACTS
Material Landfill Incineration Recycling
Paper and card 2.20 1.40 1.30
Plastic packaging 3.10 5.00 1.50
Textil...
WASTE PREVENTION
• The best environmental option, avoiding
resource use, saving energy and CO2 emissions
• Recycling and f...
REUSE
• Large numbers of perfectly useable household
goods are currently dumped e.g furniture
• Reuse means diversion from...
RECYCLING
• Reduces need for extraction and processing of
new resources, saving energy and CO2
• Wales recycles or compost...
ENERGY SAVINGS
• Energy saved by recycling compared to
incineration –
• Paper – 3 times
• Plastic – 5 times
• Textiles – 6...
COMPOSTING
• Composting - returns nutrients and structure
to soils
• displaces other fertilizers
• sequesters carbon
• in ...
More on Anaerobic Digestion
• Anaerobic Digestion (AD) can generate 100% renewable
energy from food waste, slurries, sewag...
REUSE/RECYCLING/COMPOSTING
WALES 2008/09
1. Torfaen – 49%
2. Ceredigion – 48.7%
7. Pembrokeshire – 39%
13. Rhondda Cynon T...
Then the residual...
• Up to 30% in Wales after 70% recycling and
composting
• Residual waste should always remain
somethi...
Why not incinerate it?
The incineration advocate would say...
– An incinerator will generate some electricity,
maybe some ...
Incineration
– Inefficient - just over 20% - and emits 30%
more C02 than gas-fired power station if
incinerator is electri...
Incineration
• Produces waste for landfill – 25% of inputs as
bottom ash (contains some toxic materials)
and 5% fly-ash (h...
An alternative....
• Following high levels of recycling or composting, we should:
– Use mechanical biological treatment to...
New technologies?
• Much is said about gasification, pyrolysis,
plasma
– But unbiased data is difficult to find, and there...
ZERO WASTE CREATES JOBS
• Recycling creates ten times more jobs than
incineration or landfilling
• If the EU achieved a 70...
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Waste and the environment Friends of the Earth

  1. 1. WASTE AND THE ENVIRONMENT Gordon James Friends of the Earth Cymru
  2. 2. WHY REDUCE WASTE • Throw away culture – Wastes valuable resources – Litter • Harm of mining, processing etc • Landfill sites – methane emissions, water pollution, dust, noise and health concerns • New products use more energy • Greenhouse gas emissions from landfill, incineration, energy use
  3. 3. • The natural environment is our life- support system providing us with food, clean air, fresh water, a stable climate, raw materials, .... • Now the natural world’s ability to sustain life on earth is under threat...biodiversity loss, peak oil, climate change NATURAL RESOURCES WHY WORRY?
  4. 4. RESOURCE LOSS • Logging, mining, industrial agriculture, fishing, pollution etc are causing extinction rates not seen since the loss of the dinosaurs.
  5. 5. INEQUALITY • Humans today extract and use 50% more natural resources than just 30 years ago • A North American consumes, on average, 90 kg of resources a day, an European 45 kg and an African 10 kg. • As well as environmental damage, increasing resource extraction also leads to social problems such as human rights violations and poor working conditions.
  6. 6. NIGER DELTA • Oil extraction by Shell in the Niger Delta has caused widespread environmental damage, ill health and poverty.
  7. 7. RESOURCE WASTE • In Europe, if recyclable waste in 2004 had been used instead of being dumped in landfills or incinerators, it would have saved E5.25b and 148 m tonnes of CO2 • In the UK, using recyclable waste would have saved £650m and 19m tonnes CO2....the same as taking 6 million cars off the road. From Gone to Waste by FoE 2009
  8. 8. ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT • Human demands on natural resources are now outstripping what the Earth can provide by more than half. • If everyone lived as we do in Wales, humans would need 2.7 planets to survive. [The biennial Living Planet Report from WWF, the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network 13th October 2010] • Waste generation contributes 15% to Wales’ Ecological Footprint - WAG
  9. 9. WASTE IN WALES 2008/09 • Municipal waste produced - 1.7m tonnes • Landfilled - 1.03m tonnes • Recycled - 0.43m tonnes • Composted - 0.21m tonnes • Incinerated - 0.03m tonnes • Source: WAG’s Municipal Waste Management Report for Wales 2008-09
  10. 10. LITTER
  11. 11. LANDFILL – NO THANKS • Complete waste of resources • Leachate contaminates water courses • Emits greenhouse gases, mainly methane – 2.4% of total in Wales • Creates dust, noise and vermin problems • Can impact adversely on health e.g Nant-y- Gwyddon • Expensive – landfill tax is £48/tonne
  12. 12. A WAY FORWARD “Nature does not produce waste. In nature, the waste of one organism or process becomes the food for another.” From ‘Waste Management and Sustainable Development in South Africa’ • ACHIEVE ZERO WASTE – This means zero residual waste not simply no waste to landfill
  13. 13. WASTE HIERARCHY EU’s Waste Framework Directive states the following waste hierarchy should be applied a)Prevention b)Reuse c)Recycling d)Other recovery e.g energy recovery e)Disposal
  14. 14. CO2 IMPACTS Material Landfill Incineration Recycling Paper and card 2.20 1.40 1.30 Plastic packaging 3.10 5.00 1.50 Textiles 18.00 9.00 2.00 Glass packaging 0.84 0.84 0.53 Steel packaging 3.00 1.30 0.70 Aluminium packaging 11.05 11.05 2.00 Gone to Waste FoE (2009)
  15. 15. WASTE PREVENTION • The best environmental option, avoiding resource use, saving energy and CO2 emissions • Recycling and food waste collection encourages prevention • The amount of municipal waste produced in Wales has declined over the last 4 years by 2mT • WAG’s new strategy, Towards Zero waste, has a set a target of cutting waste by 65% by 2050 and to do so at a rate of 1.5% a year.
  16. 16. REUSE • Large numbers of perfectly useable household goods are currently dumped e.g furniture • Reuse means diversion from landfill and incineration, provision of goods at low cost and creation of employment • In Flanders there’s a network of re-use shops with discounts for people in need
  17. 17. RECYCLING • Reduces need for extraction and processing of new resources, saving energy and CO2 • Wales recycles or composts 44% of municipal waste • WAG has set a target to recycle 70% of waste by 2025 • We believe it should be 70% by 2015 – Flanders already over 70% - 80% by 2020
  18. 18. ENERGY SAVINGS • Energy saved by recycling compared to incineration – • Paper – 3 times • Plastic – 5 times • Textiles – 6 times
  19. 19. COMPOSTING • Composting - returns nutrients and structure to soils • displaces other fertilizers • sequesters carbon • in the case of anaerobic digestion, produces methane which can be used as a 100% renewable energy source.
  20. 20. More on Anaerobic Digestion • Anaerobic Digestion (AD) can generate 100% renewable energy from food waste, slurries, sewage sludge etc: – biogas can be burnt directly, to generate electricity (least efficient option), and/or heat – it can be injected into the natural gas grid (very efficient), reducing dependence on imported gas – it can be used as a transport fuel (very efficient) • Food waste collection is cost effective and popular – Best (in cost and environmental terms) to collect food waste separate from green waste, in kitchen caddies, with compostable liners
  21. 21. REUSE/RECYCLING/COMPOSTING WALES 2008/09 1. Torfaen – 49% 2. Ceredigion – 48.7% 7. Pembrokeshire – 39% 13. Rhondda Cynon Taff – 37% 16. Neath/Port Talbot – 35% 20. Swansea – 32% 22. Blaenau Gwent – 25%
  22. 22. Then the residual... • Up to 30% in Wales after 70% recycling and composting • Residual waste should always remain something that should be minimised, not promoted –If a market for residual waste, e.g incineration, is created then material will not go up the waste hierarchy, loosing the environmental benefits
  23. 23. Why not incinerate it? The incineration advocate would say... – An incinerator will generate some electricity, maybe some heat – They aren’t as polluting as they used to be, and you can hire an architect to make them look weird – They are a low risk technology, if rather expensive – Easy option for local authorities
  24. 24. Incineration – Inefficient - just over 20% - and emits 30% more C02 than gas-fired power station if incinerator is electricity only – Incinerators will burn recyclable materials, unlike other residual waste technologies that will separate out e.g. plastics – Incinerators are large, expensive and inflexible, and must be fed with a constant stream of waste for 25 – 30 years
  25. 25. Incineration • Produces waste for landfill – 25% of inputs as bottom ash (contains some toxic materials) and 5% fly-ash (hazardous waste) • Unpopular because of concern about emissions and lorry traffic • IPC process –undermines WAG waste policy
  26. 26. An alternative.... • Following high levels of recycling or composting, we should: – Use mechanical biological treatment to pre-treat any remaining residual waste prior to landfill or low-grade land treatment, aiming to: • Maximise removal of recyclables (including plastics) • Minimise methane production in the landfill – The MBT system must be modular and flexible, designed to deal with gradually reducing residual waste volumes, as recycling rates increase & waste prevention has an impact. – Eunomia consultancy found this approach was one of the best residual waste treatments in climate terms - much better than incineration
  27. 27. New technologies? • Much is said about gasification, pyrolysis, plasma – But unbiased data is difficult to find, and there is much scepticism in the waste industry. • If incinerators built, these technologies ruled out for >25 years • Top priority is waste reduction
  28. 28. ZERO WASTE CREATES JOBS • Recycling creates ten times more jobs than incineration or landfilling • If the EU achieved a 70% recycling rate, at least 500,000 jobs would be created • In the UK this would amount to 50,000 new jobs in recycling

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