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Energy from Waste

Volume 453: debated on Monday 27 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans his Department has to promote the generation of energy from waste and the acceptability of the concept among the public. (103382)

The Government see it as an important objective not to promote energy from waste (EfW) at the expense of waste prevention or recycling.

EfW is, however, a valid option lower down the waste hierarchy for those wastes which cannot realistically be treated in other ways, and would otherwise have to be disposed of to landfill. EfW offers considerable climate change benefits compared to landfill, primarily through avoided landfill methane emissions. In addition, the energy generated from the biomass fraction of waste can help offset fossil fuel power generation.

The Government have published several studies which set out the evidence gathered so far on the environmental and health effects of waste management so the public can assess for themselves the facts on EfW.

An independent, peer reviewed study published in 2004, concluded that on the evidence so far, the treatment of municipal solid waste has at most a minor effect on health. 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.