Monday, 17 January 2022

Environment Monday - How can we be building the Edmonton incinerator whilst imposing a ULEZ zone

 There has been an ongoing campaign against the proposed new Edmonton waste incinerator for several years now. The incinerator is being commissioned by the North West London Waste Authority. It seems to me to be absurd that we can be even considering an incinerator in an urban area, given the known harm that pollution causes to our lungs. The Mayor of London recognises this with his imposition of the ULEZ zone, but for some reason seems strangely reticent to support the campaign against the incinertaor. In May, GLA member Emma Best asked Khan about his support for the campaign. The Mayors response was lukewarm to say the least. It seems that Mayor Khan is happy for the incinerator to be built and for the govt to take the blame.

The rights and wrongs of this scheme are quite clear. We should not be building incinerators in urban areas. London needs a strategy to remove the amount of packaging that we produce. Sadly one of the biggest side effects of shift to online shopping is a massive increase in packaging. When we buy stuff from shops, most of us now take our own bags. When stuff comes via delivery services, we see huge amounts of cardboard and plastic added to the packaging. Much of this will end up being burned or buried. Barnet Council had a successful food recycling scheme, but this was ended to save money. It cannot be right that it is cheaper to burn such waste rather than composting it. 


London needs a strategy to massively reduce packaging and to have proper recycling. With this, incinerators and landdfill would no longer be needed. Mayor Khan has invested huge political capital in the ULEZ, but he seems to have a blind spot on waste. My preferred resolution would be to make retailers liable for disposal of non recyclable waste that their businesses generate. It used to be that you'd get a few pennies back from the sweet shop for glass bottles. I'd like to see that brought back, with legal penalties for non compliance, for all packaging. Supermarkets would soon cut back, if they had to deal with the rubbish they generate. 

Such a scheme needs leadership. Sadly, Sadiq Khan doesn't really seem interested in this.

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