"Let’s chatter about waste"
Published: 6 September, 2012
"WHAT happens to the domestic waste we put in our bins?
Camden Council must be worried that its North London Waste Plan was thrown out by a planning inspector last Friday.
It will take at least two years to go through the whole planning process again. [The document is at http://www.nlwp.net]
The ruling may affect a proposed incinerator-fuel plant, at Pinkham Way, Muswell Hill. This site was going to process 300,000 tonnes of our black-bag waste every year, turning most of it into fuel for burning elsewhere.
In addition, Barnet planners have already given permission for a domestic waste incinerator at Brent Cross, including a 140-metre chimney. You may be downwind of it!
However we can make good use of a two-year delay in the North London Waste Plan. We need to rethink how we deal with our waste, since burning it is just as bad as land-fill. (On the other hand, robotic machines in 50 years’ time could maybe recover the valuable materials we bury. With incinerators, we just destroy it forever.)
Signing 30-year contracts for new incinerators also means we are stuck with supplying enough waste for decades, which reduces incentives for waste reduction and for recycling. Local authorities elsewhere in the UK are already paying contract penalties (‘fines’) for exactly that.
Two years – beyond the next council elections – means we can demand more ambitious reduction targets for domestic waste from Camden politicians and other north London boroughs. We can dramatically reduce quantities if we redesign consumer goods and their packaging. The difficulty is in gaining enough political momentum to achieve that!
Lobbying politicians by the 'chattering classes' of north London, one of the most influential and articulate parts of the UK, is a good place to start.
Improvements in public procurement and in legislation and taxation can force manufacturing changes.
This will only happen if we, the public, start actually to care about the deadly boring subject of domestic waste."