Waste to Energy - wrong way, go back!

The growing rush to incinerate recyclable materials in response to the current loss of export markets, is entirely the wrong way to go, the Boomerang Alliance of 47 national, state and local groups said today.

“It’s on the low rung, only second to landfill on the widely accepted waste treatment hierarchy for very good reasons.  Incineration and energy production is a one-off, old style technology that creates multiple problems for the environment, recycling and local communities.  Lazy councils like Ipswich which are championing incineration should not be taken as a guide to solving the loss of market for kerbside recycling,” said Boomerang Director, Jeff Angel.

Boomerang’s detailed investigations of so-called waste to energy have revealed:

  • The use of mixed waste inevitably produces toxic air pollution because what is in the waste cannot be controlled. Two recent projects in NSW and the ACT have been rejected on health risk grounds and failure to prove technology and emissions control.
  • Such projects require long term supply guarantees shutting off future resource recovery options that would deliver large recycling and economic benefits.
  • Hazardous ash residues are left requiring further treatment and landfilling in controlled sites.
  • It is very difficult to obtain local community support creating significant political risks for government.

“In recent days we have seen governments such as Queensland talk about supporting a domestic recycling industry and at the same time, widespread incineration.  You can’t have both.  We urge state and federal governments to put genuine policies in place and not destroy the community’s commitment to recycling.”

“If they and councils like Ipswich think it is an easy road to incineration, then they will rapidly find out they are wrong,’’ Mr Angel said.