Landfill or Incineration?
I think we should not choose between landfill and incineration. It is a bit like choosing between coal and nuclear power stations – both have upsides and serious downsides.
In Powys in Wales, the communities of Presteigne and Norton hit a national new record of recycling (I think it was about 75percent – up from 26 per cent in 2.5 years) as the waste and recycling was collected by a community group in an innovative trial. This led to lots and lots of different items being collected for recycling separately and waste being collected in see-through sacks so neighbours could see what they were throwing out.
Residents there formed the ‘museum of bad design’ – taking inspiration from a group in north Italy (who have 85 per cent recycling in their community) who have taken to ripping up black plastic bags of the waste to idenitfy what is still left over. They discovered that one of the main culprits was Lavassa coffe capsules. These combine plastic, coffee and other materials and cannot be recycled. They are now working with the company to design an alternative to the billion plus of these thrown away each year in Italy alone.
I have worked with the group in Wales to set up the Peoples Design Lab to repeat this link between public, sustainable design students and companies to design out waste in the UK. Please can you all consider voting at www.thepeoplesdesignlab.org.uk to challenge the worst cases of packaging, built in obsolescence or daily disposability to be redesigned.
That way we can work towards a society of zero waste without incineration. And in doing so can also have a chance of transitioning to a zero carbon society (typical incineration has CO2 emissions that are twice that of coal fired power per unit of electricity generated – and the best ones which use combined heat and power still have higher carbon emissions than gas fired power.)
Please check out the People’s Design Lab and place your votes as a first step to hoping that we can shift away from our rubbish-intensive consumer society!
by Jonathan Essex
– This is a post by Jonathan Essex from CEL’s discussion group