Incin­er­a­tors not fi­nan­cially vi­able

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

IN RE­SPONSE to Gor­don Taylor’s let­ter, “Con­sider new waste man­age­ment tech­nol­ogy” (Week­end Argus, Au­gust 5), I quote Neil Seld­man, the au­thor of The US Re­cy­cling Move­ment, who says: “Incin­er­a­tors don’t make fi­nan­cial sense when other ap­proaches are cheaper. Cities can­not af­ford the cost of build­ing Waste In­cin­er­a­tor plants, which typ­i­cally cost $650 mil­lion (R8.7 bil­lion) per plant.

“Re­cy­cling and com­post­ing are 10% the cost of in­cin­er­a­tion. The raw ma­te­ri­als re­turned to in­dus­try and agri­cul­ture cre­ates about 5 to 10 times more jobs com­pared to in­cin­er­a­tion in just pro­cess­ing, and much more in man­u­fac­tur­ing.”

Waste incin­er­a­tors are com­plex de­vices and mon­i­tor­ing the fa­cil­ity is a huge is­sue. A full in­spec­tion, even when con­ducted by a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, takes five days.

In the US, the gov­ern­ment re­alised the ad­verse en­vi­ron­men­tal threats these fa­cil­i­ties posed and im­ple­mented poli­cies like the Clean Air Act (1970).

Plants that did not com­ply with these reg­u­la­tions were shut down.

There is a big dif­fer­ence be­tween Stock­holm and Welling­ton.

Welling­ton gen­er­ates a tiny frac­tion of waste com­pared to Stock­holm. Swe­den has more incin­er­a­tors than waste to burn.

Most incin­er­a­tors are sub­sidised. These sub­si­dies ex­ac­er­bate the cur­rent over­sup­ply of incin­er­a­tors – hence the need to im­port waste to en­sure their fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity.

The un­der-util­i­sa­tion, lack of flex­i­bil­ity, and de­sign con­straints of these haz­ardous plants can hardly be con­sid­ered “ef­fi­cient tech­nol­ogy”.

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