Click here to go back to News listing.April 24, 2012
“The UK currently has a unique opportunity to revitalise its economy by changing the way it manages waste. Investing in new waste treatment facilities will not only create employment and economic growth but consolidate a more secure energy supply. The more effective use of recyclables will help reinvigorate UK manufacturing where waste provides the base materials for new products previously destined for landfill. The sector’s performance and on-going innovation makes a strong case for businesses to unlock vital funding and play a central role in bridging “the green gap” so the UK can meet its carbon budget targets to 2020 but also realise the potential of a circular economy.”
Those were the words of SITA UK CEO David Palmer Jones about his company’s newest report on the UK’s waste management and recycling sector.
According to SITA’s report entitled “Driving green growth” published yesterday (April 23), the UK’s waste sector could create 84,000 jobs in the next 10 years and produce 15% of the Britain’s renewable electricity requirements.
It also found that waste to energy has the potential to meet half the country’s residential gas demand.
The report also estimates that the waste to resource and energy-from-waste sectors could:
• Provide opportunities for up to £25 billion of investment in new infrastructure, including new waste treatment facilities;
• Create up to 84,000 new jobs by 2020, directly and indirectly with a higher level of skills required than ever before;
• Triple waste derived renewable electricity (from thermal combustion alone) to 3.6 terawatt hours (TWh) powering one million homes;
• Energy-from-waste has the potential to meet 15% of the UK’s electricity from renewable sources commitment and a third of the country’s residential gas demand (up to 12% of total UK demand) could be met by the waste management sector;
• Bring tens of millions of tonnes of valuable secondary commodities, reducing virgin material imports, helping UK manufacturing and supporting the circular economy. [E.g. 4.2 million tonnes of card were exported in 2010 and 7.7 million tonnes of paper were imported].
With regards to energy generation SITA claims that a further 80 energy-from-waste facilities would need to be built by 2020, on top of the 30 already operating in the UK.
SITA also suggests that the government should ensure that the Renewable Heat Incentive offers support for the capture of heat from landfill gas, which it says, could generate more than six terawatt hours of renewable heat.
Another segment to watch is the food waste sector, anaerobic digestion facilities will be key to reduce waste sent to landfills. The report predicts that the capacity for food waste to be treated using AD will have grown tenfold from its level in 2010 by 2020.
The report also warned that the UK is missing out on potential opportunities through the export of both materials and energy - such as RDF - recovered from the waste stream.
Public perception was also highlighted as an area in which the government could do more. According to the report encouraging the use of funds and incentives, such as utility discounts could encourage community buy-in for waste projects.