Jonathon Porritt advocates EfW for plastics recovery

Enviromentalist Jonathon Porritt has called for a more open debate on the potential of using waste-to-energy to recover the calorific value in plastics waste.

Porritt said that modern energy recovery technologies such as small-scale incineration or advanced gasification should be considered as a viable recovery solution for the material despite many green groups being fiercely opposed to the idea of burning plastics.

Writing in his blog this week, Porritt said: “The countries we usually think of as the greenest in Europe are today entirely comfortable with modern waste-to-energy technologies. This includes the use of plastics (for materials that cannot currently be recycled).”

He said that while non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had a big role to play in collaborating with business to establish some common ground on what landfill diversion methodologies to adopt, many of them failed to understand the benefits of more advanced thermal treatment technologies.

Porritt, who recently spoke on the issue at an event organised by Plastics Europe on the future of the plastics industry, said that some of the debates at the conference “seemed to be stuck in some kind of timewarp”.

“Our major NGOs here in the UK are still implacably hostile to such technologies, fighting any new proposals with the same tactics used over decades to oppose mass-burn incineration plants,” he blogged.

“Things have moved on technologically, and we urgently need to evolve a different approach to the whole waste-to-energy debate if we’re going to drag ourselves off the floor of the league table for percentage of waste diverted from landfill in major EU countries.”

Maxine Perella

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