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Waste Management

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 13 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of increased incineration of waste on the environment. (75568)

Defra published the independent Review of the Environmental and Health Effects of Waste Management, in 2004, which was peer reviewed by the Royal Society. The review concluded that, based on the evidence from studies so far, the treatment of municipal solid waste—including by incineration—has, at most, a minor impact on human health and the environment. Defra has also recently published a study, “Impact of Energy from Waste and Recycling Policy on UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions”, in support of a review of the Government's waste strategy. This is available on the Defra website:

9 per cent. of waste is currently incinerated in England, but an increase is likely to be needed to be able to meet landfill directive targets, despite big improvements in waste recycling and minimisation. Recovering energy from waste through incineration produces many fewer greenhouse gas emissions than landfilling. Deriving energy from biodegradable waste also helps to offset fossil fuel generation.

The Environment Agency ensures that emissions and other outputs from waste management facilities are within the limits set by the EU and the UK Government to minimise any negative impact. Incinerators are also required to conform to tighter emission standards than other types of combustion plants.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of the UK's waste was (a) recycled and (b) sent to landfill in the last period for which figures are available. (75574)

In 2002-03, the estimated proportion of controlled waste which was landfilled in the UK was 43 per cent. In the same year, the estimated proportion which was recycled or reused was 42 per cent.

This encompasses waste collected from household, industrial, commercial, construction and demolition sources.