New energy from waste plant will help us reach net zero
Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville and Cabinet Member for Energy, Waste, Transport and Public Realm, Cllr Mete Coban, outline why Hackney Council supports plans for a new energy from waste plant in Edmonton:
"COP26 has reinforced the urgent need to reduce waste, recycle more and end the use of landfill, which causes the vast majority of emissions from UK waste.
"Hackney residents have made great strides in the amount they recycle, with more than 30% of waste in the borough now recycled - up from 1% in 1998 - a figure that has been boosted since we moved to fortnightly black bin waste collections from street properties this year.
"Despite this progress, which has been replicated across much of London, we are working hard to encourage people to recycle more and reduce the amount they throw away.
"We want Hackney residents to recycle more and contribute to a north London wide target of recycling 50% by 2030, which will help us reduce emissions, and reduce our costs, as we are charged more to process rubbish than recycling.
"However, in Hackney a significant number of residents live in flats with communal recycling facilities and don’t have gardens, so recycling rates are lower than in more suburban areas. This means that we still expect to be dealing with rubbish beyond our net zero target of 2040, so we work with six other London boroughs to plan how we increase recycling, reduce waste, and deal with excess rubbish in the future.
"There’s a simple choice when it comes to rubbish - we either put it in landfill, where it produces methane, one of the most potent climate changing gases, or we use it to generate electricity, which is what we’ve done in north London for the past 50 years. This process - known as energy recovery - has diverted 21 million tonnes of rubbish from landfill since 1971.
"The 50 year old facility in Edmonton is now in need of replacing - and because we are all still throwing away rubbish, we need a plan to deal with it. The seven boroughs looked at all the options and it was clear that the most environmentally responsible and cost effective solution for the waste from two million people is to build a new energy from waste plant. Sending our rubbish to other facilities is not an option because it would cost more to use private companies and wouldn’t meet the Mayor of London’s target to treat all of London’s waste within London.
"The planning and preparation for this has been going on for several years, including a full planning application process, and this month councillors from the seven boroughs are assessing the bid to build the replacement and deciding whether to award the contract.
"The replacement facility will be able to power up to 127,000 homes, and provide heat to a district network that will supply heat and hot water for up to 50,000 homes and businesses, all while saving 215,000 tonnes of CO2 every year compared to landfill. That’s like taking 110,000 cars off the road.
"In Edmonton, the new facility will use new, advanced technology to capture NOx emissions, and around half the equipment will be dedicated to cleaning emissions. Public Health England, backed up by research from Imperial College London, says “modern, well run and regulated municipal waste incinerators... make only a very small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants”. It will also be cleaner and more resilient than the existing facilities.
"In October, David Attenborough’s Earthshot Prize film visited Copenhill, on which the new Edmonton facility is based, showing how energy can be generated from waste, with harmful pollutants filtered out of the process, leaving mostly water vapour as a byproduct.
"The project is also accelerating its plans for carbon capture and storage, which could see the facility taking carbon out of the atmosphere in the future.
"We want to live in a world where we produce very little waste, and we’re doing everything we can to achieve that. The Government must also step up, and ensure producers pay the price for the plastic and all other packaging they produce.
"In the meantime, we have no choice but to plan for how we dispose of the waste generated in Hackney and north London. Some people think that we should not build a replacement, but the alternatives, including a ‘pause’, are worse for the environment and in the long-term would cost Hackney council tax payers a lot more. We won’t be leaving your waste in the hands of private waste disposal companies but dealing with it in a publicly-owned facility, which will be the cleanest in Europe, generating heat and power for thousands of homes.
"Twenty energy from waste plants have been given permission since Edmonton, and not one of them uses the same world-leading technology. By using rubbish as a resource for society to generate energy and heat for thousands of homes and businesses it supports the UK’s shift away from gas and coal and is a key part of our plan to reach net zero."