South Yorkshire Against Incineration objects to the plan to import 75,000
tonnes of waste (Campaigners present city with gold wheelie bin, Telegraph 1 Aug 08). The story highlights the effect of Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) on public services such as waste management, highways, health and education. In 2001 that the Lib Dems signed a 30-year contract with Onyx (now Veolia). Labour then gave planning permission for the giant new incinerator and extended the contract to 2036. The Council is lumbered with a contract based on incineration at a time when the public is clamouring for more recycling and waste is not increasing as predicted. The Lib Dems have had to find money from mainstream council funding to provide free green sacks and the proposed kerbside collection of glass and tins.
There is a way to stop this going from bad to worse. The imported waste
would otherwise have been landfilled and Rotherham will pay Veolia
handsomely to take its waste and avoid landfill tax. This money could be
spent on projects to divert more of Sheffield’s waste away from the
incinerator. Across South Yorkshire as a whole, this would move us up the
waste management hierarchy, which states that incineration with energy
reclamation is better than landfill, though not as good as reduction,
re-use, repair or recycling. But this is not what Veolia is proposing – they
intend to do a straight swap, trucking 75,000 tonnes of commercial waste
(currently incinerated) to a landfill site near Doncaster. This seems a
triumph of private profit over environmental sense.
One more point. Let’s be smart about what and how we recycle. A kerbside
collection of glass and cans will mean a third wheelie bin or box, whereas
plastics and cans could be done using sacks and would save more carbon. These materials are currently processed by Reclaim, which collects them from bring sites. Reclaim relies on the metals to subsidise handling the less lucrative materials such as low grade plastics and has so far avoided sending anything to China. Reclaim also employs and supports people with learning disabilities. Why not support this social enterprise, avoid yet another wheelie bin and maximize the carbon saving?
Cllr Jillian Creasy, Sheffield Green Party