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Thursday, 19 August 2010

Waste Hierarchy

I thought it might be useful to explain the waste hierarchy concept which Brent Council, the West London Waste Authority and the London Plan all use for dealing with waste. Waste is dealt with (in order of preference) through reduction, re use, recycling, recovery and disposal.

Reduction or re-using materials is obviously cheapest and greenest in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, but it is quite hard to measure. How can you tell whether people have not produced waste.

Recycling is next best in environmental and cost terms. Our new waste strategy is intended to raise the proportion of recycling, in order to divert material from landfill.

Landfill is the worst option in terms of cost as the government is increasing landfill tax to discourage it. We also need to discourage as the UK is running out of land to fill. Whether it is the worst option in carbon terms is dependent on the composition of the waste. If there is a high proportion of green waste it generates methane which is many times worse in terms of global warming than carbon dioxide, meaning that it can actually be worse than burning it for power (the recovery stage).


Anonymous said...

Composting green waste doesn't generate methane in the same way as putting it on landfill. It's important to point this out because without specialist knowledge most people wouldn't appreciate the difference. Composting is thus a much better option in terms of greenhouse gas emissions as well as not running out of landfill space.

Brian Orr said...

"How can you tell whether people have not produced waste."

By looking in their dust-bins on 'dust-bin day' or concluding if they
have not left out their dust-bins they have no waste?

Anonymous said...

Green waste has not come from fossil fuels, merely from carbon that was in the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide, only a few years ago.

Therefore it has no effect on climate change.

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