72% of the public believes the UK should be responsible for its own waste, rather than shipping it overseas, according to data company Savanta. The announcement made by EfW operator enfinium has revealed the public’s ‘strong desire’ to stop exporting waste overseas and sending it to landfill. CEO of enfinium, Mike Maudsley said:
The UK has a waste problem. To fix it we need to consume less and reuse more, we must increase recycling rates, and we need to put that which is left over to good use here in the UK.
The UK currently exports 2 million tonnes of waste abroad while 12 million tonnes go to landfill. The research carried out by Savanta on behalf of enfinium asked a “nationally representative sample” of 2,000 UK adults has revealed that just over half (53%) of the public supported an outright ban on waste exports. Two-thirds also believe the UK government should ensure the maximum amount of energy is recovered from unrecyclable waste.
This data comes after provisional statistics from the Environment Agency revealed that England exported over a million tonnes of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) between January and September 2023; The sector has seen an average upward trend in exports by 7% year-on-year. But enfinium believes the UK is missing out on “reliable energy that can be generated in the UK’s state-of-the-art energy from waste facilities.”
Earlier this year, the RDF Industry Group responded to calls for a blanket ban on waste exports, suggesting that preventing exports could increase waste crime. There is also an argument that European EfW plants use the heat more effectively. However, Maudsley believes cutting down on exports and waste diverted to landfill would be a good move for the UK. He said:
By diverting waste from climate-damaging landfill, and putting an end to waste exports, we can reduce our emissions while generating homegrown baseload energy. This is better for the environment and better for the UK.
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