Yes, yes, oh YES!

Filed in Blog by on October 21, 2010 13 Comments
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Mrs Green - happy that incinerator plans are up in smoke

Mrs Green - happy that incinerator plans are up in smoke

You’re looking at one happy woman.

This evening on the way to taking Little Miss Green to kickboxing we stopped to take back a dvd we had rented.

Mr Green rather animatedly said “Look! There in the headlines!” I thought he was talking about the headlights; thinking one of the bulbs had gone or something.

“What’s wrong with the headlights?” I asked.“No the HEADLINES!” said Mr Green getting agitated “it’s about the incinerator.”

I popped into the shop to drop off the dvd and behold, on the front page of our local paper was the headline “Incinerator up in smoke; no cash for waste plant.”


I parted with my 40p and nearly fell over on the way back to the car because I was too busy reading the story. I have to admit, by the time I got into the car I was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

The recession may be bad news for a lot of things, but in this instance it’s been a blessing. It seems there is not enough money in the pot to fund the £800 million needed to build an incinerator in Gloucester since Whitehall pulled the plug on the £92million of private finance initiative (PFI).

It would appear we’re not out of the woods just yet, but at this stage the news looks good…

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (13)

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  1. Julie Day says:

    Good for you. Not good news here. I read today that part of our mayor’s cuts over the next few years will include road sweeping and recycling. Just imagine what can happen if they are cut down. The mess.

  2. Sarah says:

    Good News Mrs G!

    We’ve just had a “Gasification plant” refused near here.

  3. Mrs Green says:

    @Julie Day: Cutting back on recycling? I wonder what that actually means. Keep us posted Julie.
    @Sarah: I think this may spread across the country with recent cuts Sarah; let’s hope we can understand that getting to the root of the issue is the way forwards now

  4. Sarah says:

    @Mrs Green: Agreed, instead of the knee jerk reaction of “So, what do we do with all this rubbish then?” We need to be asking “Where doe is all come from?” and can we produce less, recycle and reuse more etc.

    This little vid is well worth a watch.!/video/video.php?v=158132510893956

  5. Ben says:

    @Sarah: Hi Sarah, I’d agree that looking at rubbish as a post consumer problem is a bad idea, and that rubbish needs to be tackled at source by finding ways to encourage manufacturers and retailers to minimise the materials which are likely to end up as waste from their products and services. This is where I’d like the money being spent on incinerators to be spent instead as it’s a far more sustainable and practical solution.

  6. Jane says:

    A minimum waste tonnage contract has caused problems for this Council.

    How many new incinerators were being proposed?

  7. Mr Reality says:

    You obviously don’t live in the real world! Your knee-jerk reaction is less than considered – even with being able to achieve recycling rates of 70%, it becomes increasingly a state of diminishing returns to get past that and there will always be some left over material that is more environmentally and economically sound to recover energy from rather than landfill. You really need to look into the science and economics of this first before you go blowing your trumpet!

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Sarah: @Jane: Thanks for the video Sarah and Jane for the link – will take a look a both later.
    @Mr Reality: Hello Mr Reality, welcome to the site and thanks for leaving your comment.

    My reaction is not ‘knee jerk’ , I’m not aware that I am ‘blowing my trumpet’ and neither is my post less than considered.

    I’ve been looking into this issue for a long time and I feel that burning resources (because that’s what everything is, even the things we deem as ‘rubbish’) is a complete waste.

    Technology changes in an instant and to be lumbered with something that locks us into 25 year contracts is not a good use of money. When we consider that twitter didn’t exist 5 years ago or that less than 25 years ago I was putting tapes into a tape player to play games on my BBC Acorn Electron computer we can see how quickly things move on.

    I agree that we will be left with materials, no matter how much recycling we do, but as science advances so quickly I feel confident there are better ways to deal with our ‘residual waste’ than send it up in smoke. I feel that in a few years time we will be mining our own landfills when we realise the amount of resources we have buried, but if we burn them, they are gone forever. In a world of reducing resources, we need to think carefully about responsible disposal.

  9. John Costigane says:

    Well said, Mrs Green! The incinerator proposal has been knocked back for financial reasons, due to the ending of the previous government’s approach. The waste issue remains unsettled for the longterm which means a better options is needed to prevent simple burning of non-recyclables.

    Mr Reality has a different view but fails to mention the 25% ash remaining from the burning process, a sizeable part of which is toxic to humans. Is this, in reality, a good choice?

  10. Mr. Green says:

    @Mr Reality: If you think about the logic, before the finance, there absolutely no justification for burning waste. All waste is a material resource that should be used again. If we transfer waste into energy, the energy is expended and the carbon form material can never be recovererd again. Taking into account our finite planet resources and increasing extraction rates, the logic states clearly, we will eventually reach an endpoint, where we have exhasted all resources.

    If we carry on with our current course of extraction and burning of fossil fuels, any scientist will have to admit, ‘it’s only a matter of time’ before we simply run out of materials. Our position is to avoid landfill and incineration as much as possible, as both these options effectively isolates carbon from the material resourse stream.

    The natural biological model of carbon assimimilation/ reuse has sustained this planet for billions of years. It’s a tried and trusted process that has been systematically successfully adapted by every life form, except mankind. If we ignore this model any longer we will inevitably suffer the consequences of our own anhilation. The concepts of selective science and greed economics are small fry, compared to the looming threats of survival and sustainability.

    This article is not a knee jerk reaction, or a crowing of personal succes. We are simply glad that circumstances have so far prevailed in favour of what we see as ‘good common sense’

  11. sandy says:

    changing the subject: saw you on countryfile last night well done, very good interview, but they could have got a little bit more information out of you, not long enough information for my likeing

  12. Ben says:

    @Mr Reality: Unfortunately incinerators aren’t the silver bullet for the rubbish we’re increasingly struggling to dispose of. A large fraction of rubbish is construction rubble that cannot be burnt, and metal, glass and ceramics also don’t reduce in volume or provide energy when put in the incinerator. Alternative ideas are needed for many materials. Of the rubbish that does burn, it reduces in volume by around 75%, leaving behind a still significant volume of ash which contains various pollutants.

    Incinerators are one way of reducing the volume of our rubbish, but they’re costly, create pollution and are unpopular with local residents. They are also not the only way of reducing rubbish. Following the general principles of reduction, reuse and recycle that come up in many forms on this site has resulted in a huge reduction in my normal landfill rubbish within a year. I’ve shrunk from filling a 120 litre bin every fortnight to a supermarket carrier bag full every 2-4 weeks. Some of my rubbish has been diverted to composting, some packaging I just don’t buy any more as the items can be found lose, and I make better use of my local recycling facilities too.

    If we scale this up to many households, the reduction in rubbish is just as real, but without the huge cost of an incinerator burdening the public, no extra pollution, no concerns to local residents and with significant energy and resource savings from the use of less materials in the first place. Getting people to join in has its challenges, but a lot of people are doing just that, while general public acceptance of new recycling services has been positive in my experience, and new lightweight packaging options such as the Kenco coffee refills and reuse of packaging such as the Ecover refill services are gaining in popularity too. If we give people the option to consume less packaging and use less disposable items, they often do. Getting retailers to be much more critical of their packaging use, both its volume, type of material and ability to be reused, and the life span of their products would eradicate a lot of rubbish before consumers even have to make the effort to think about it.

    I don’t see any good reason to accept a costly, polluting, resource destroying incinerator as essential when there is a far cheaper, cleaner and resource saving option available.

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @sandy: Thanks Sandy – we live in a soundbite age for sure!

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