More than half of county waste is being burnt
More than half of Norfolk’s waste is still being burnt, five years after plans for an incinerator on the edge of Lynn finally went up in smoke.
Officials have defended the county’s record, insisting that disposal method is better than putting rubbish into landfill.
But one of the leading figures in the campaign against the Saddlebow scheme says far more still needs to be done to make the process greener.
Government data says 220,706 tonnes of rubbish were burned in Norfolk during 2017-18, 52 per cent of all the county’s waste.
The vast majority was used as fuel to generate heat and electricity at specialist waste power facilities, reflecting a rising trend towards burning rubbish.
The Norfolk Waste Partnership, the body responsible for waste and recycling services in the county, says more waste is being recycled than ever before
A spokesman added: “Despite this there is still rubbish left over and our current arrangements are focused on using it as a fuel to generate electricity and heat, which is preferable to disposal in landfills.
“Our aim is to reduce waste where we can, increase recycling further and deliver sustainable solutions for all the materials collected, including left-over rubbish.”
But recently-elected borough councillor Michael de Whalley, who founded the King’s Lynn Without Incineration campaign group, claims the environmental costs of burning waste are not properly taken into account and far greater investment is needed to improve methods of separating recyclable material.
He said: “The quality of recyclable material separation at the Costessey sorting plant is simply not good enough.
“It therefore comes as no surprise that bales of mixed plastic from the recycling facility have no commercial worth other than as refuse derived fuel.
“Norfolk sends around 60,000 tonnes of food and other organic waste for incineration that could be dealt with more appropriately using anaerobic digestion at half the cost.”
However, West Norfolk Council environment portfolio holder Ian Devereux, who sits on the board of the waste partnership, said: “The sorting plant in Norfolk produces high quality materials which have always been wanted by the people who make new products from recyclable materials.
“Even in the most difficult conditions we have not sent good quality recycling to incineration or landfill.”