Climate Emergency Camden were wrong

Thursday, 25th November 2021

• CLIMATE Emergency Camden (CEC) does vital work on local issues, so it was disconcerting to see the group make a false statement in their November 18 letter regarding “rebuilding the Edmonton incinerator”.

It is in fact an energy-from-waste plant, which generates energy for 80,000 homes and prevents the rotting in landfill of black-bin-bag waste.

CEC states: “As part of the contract for the new facility there will be a requirement for the North London Waste Authority to provide a set quantity of material for burning.” This is not true.

There are no set quantities or tonnages of material needed. In fact as it will be a publicly-owned facility, NLWA will be able to run the facility at a lower capacity if there is less unrecyclable or contaminated waste. The contract is purely to build the facility.

The real issue is that tsunamis of trash – two million tonnes in London each year; the equivalent of 67 double-decker buses per hour – are generated by unabated and unsustainable consumption. This colossal amount of rubbish must be dealt with in the most responsible and sustainable way possible.

That’s why we need to build a new facility with state-of-the-art technology that will be the same as the Copenhill facility in Copenhagen, which featured in the Earthshot prize as a pioneer in improving urban air quality, to replace the current facility which was built at the end of the 1960s. The new facility will generate electricity which could power more than 100,000 homes as well as heat for up to 50,000.

CEC is right to point out the need to improve recycling. What the boroughs need among a range of measures, however, is for the UK government to give them the powers to make recycling compulsory.

In terms of recycling tricky items, NLWA is innovating and leading the way in London and the UK. For instance, Camden residents can now recycle mattresses and polystyrene at our Regis Road Reuse and Recycling Centre in Kentish Town. Over 1,500 mattresses from Camden were collected in just 10 weeks this summer for recycling.

Even before recycling, though, we must all prevent waste in the first place. NLWA has called on the government to enact large-scale systemic change so that unecological products such as single-use plastics are banned and businesses make products that produce less waste, have long life spans, and are easily repairable.

NLWA Chair

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