Editor’s comment: Big plans to burn half our rubbish

Parents and children from the Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Rebuild campaign.

Parents and children from the Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Rebuild campaign. - Credit: Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Re

North London Waste Authority has wildly upscaled its PR operation in the last year or two

- at one point not that long ago, it felt like every other phone call we received was a final (final, final) check that we'd definitely received every last detail about some or other clothing swap shop in a park nine weeks hence.

Funny it wasn't so forthcoming about the plan to recommission an enormous incinerator to burn Camden, Haringey and Barnet's household waste: not only were we not told about it, but campaigners say the consultation as a whole was woefully inadequate and needs to be run again.

What's more, and perhaps more fundamental, we need to be incentivising recycling - and renewing an incinerator that will be nowhere near the end of its life even years after we have hit or missed our (precarious) target of a 1.5C global temperature increase feels like a step in the wrong direction.

There is no sustainable version of the future that involves producing even half the non-recyclable household waste we have been.


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My personal belief is that we will never achieve adequate recycling levels without centralising or even automating the burden of separating waste currently borne by the public, and that the cost of that should be directly met by the companies whose use of unsustainable plastic packaging is the source of so much landfill in the first place.

Either way, I understand the argument that the incinerator will be more efficient than what we have now. But solving climate change needs a good deal better than that: it needs significant and urgent changes to our lives and infrastructure.

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We need to reach a point - soon - where our waste levels are much lower than they are now, and where almost everything we do throw away goes to be recycled.

The NLWA should be putting all its resources, financial and political, into achieving that goal - not planning on missing it.

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