We want a circular economy in Victoria, but we face a threat - Waste to Energy. It may look like a green solution to our waste crisis, and a neat way to solve energy prices. But it fails to take into account serious problems, such as health issues and future impacts on our recycling.
Craig is highly dubious of Waste to Energy as a solution for Australia- he found that most “recycled” soft plastics in Sweden actually ended up incinerated! See 26 minute doco here.
Our major concern is that it isn’t “clean energy”
- In a report prepared for the government, it’s noted that burning the waste doesn’t cause it to disappear – 15-25% of the waste that goes in remains as ash at the end.
- The report further says that the incineration process produces highly toxic filter cake, which will need to be disposed of in hazardous waste landfill.
- In The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, researchers highlighted “significant risks associated with waste incineration as a form of waste management.” They site various studies that have linked Waste to Energy to: blood, bowel and lung cancer; plastics in the bloodstream and breast milk; mercury, lead and arsenic in the bloodstream; toxins in food grown locally; reproductive impacts like preterm delivery, reduced sperm count and birth defects.
- The researchers state that “there is insufficient evidence to conclude that any incinerator is safe” and “the financial and ecological costs of waste to energy are comparably high.” They conclude that “community groups have a basis for legitimate concern” in regards to health impacts.
We’re also worried that it will get in the way of better solutions
- Our society relies on massive consumption of single use packaging and very low levels of recycling. Waste to Energy gives us the impression we can keep on with business as usual, but in fact we need to make massive changes in how we make, consume and re-use resources.
Waste to Energy locks us into long-term contracts (25 years) to keep producing waste. Local governments in the United States have been sued by companies that manage Waste to Energy plants for not providing enough feedstock.
There is an easy way to stop this. Local councils don’t want to be locked into long term contracts and Waste to Energy cannot exist without our waste. By sending an email to your local council, you let them know that there is community support for other solutions, and gives Councillors the cover they need to say no to these huge polluting projects.
You can make a difference today- please send an email to your local Councillor, letting them know your concerns.
Don’t know what your council is? Click here to find out.
Be sure to let us know what answer you get in reply! Email [email protected] with that or any questions.
We will continue to work on this issue- to keep up to date, sign up for our newsletter.