Big Anglo-Welsh waste assessment published

"First reliable" regional reviews provide baseline for landfill directive implementation

A detailed picture of waste generation and management in England and Wales has emerged in a series of reports published by the Anglo-Welsh environment agency. The agency stresses that the reports provide the first accurate information on industrial and commercial waste production. It says that the data will provide a baseline for efforts to meet the national waste strategy (ENDS Daily 25 May) which itself is designed to ensure compliance with the EU landfill directive.

The information is set out in ten regional reports, with detailed breakdowns by waste stream. Drawn together, the figures show that in 1998/9 175.5m tonnes of waste was produced in England and Wales, of which 28m was municipal solid waste, 72.5m construction and demolition waste and 75m industrial and commercial waste. A total of 5m tonnes of "special," or hazardous, waste was also generated.

Although 80m tonnes of total waste arisings were recycled or re-used in 1998/9, recycling and re-use rates varied widely by waste stream: 45% for construction and demolition waste but only about 17% for municipal waste. According to the reports, licensed sites accepting biodegradable wastes have an average of just six years' remaining capacity.

The reports set out two scenarios to 2020 for each region: an incineration-led option and one focused on greater recycling and composting. In all cases, prioritising recycling and composting would result in lower environmental impacts than maximising incineration, according to the agency's lifecycle assessment calculations. But such "green" strategies would still include varying levels of incineration, a fact which could prove controversial with the public and environmental groups.

The prospect of increased use of incineration has already sparked public unease over the government's waste strategy (ENDS Daily 8 February). Greenpeace brought the issue to the fore last month when its activists occupied a municipal waste incinerator in London.

Follow Up:
Anglo-Welsh environment agency, tel: +44 1454 62 44 00.

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