500k homes could be heated by burning waste: According to a new report, by 2030 more than half a million homes in the UK could be supported from low carbon heat generated by burning waste.

Diverting the nation’s 27.5 million tonnes says Think tank Policy Connect – or 80% – of non-recyclable waste for low carbon green heat could also over the next decade, help avoid four million tonnes of carbon emissions alone – equivalent to more than nine million barrels of oil worth of emissions.

Backed by 13 cross-party MPs, Its report finds to deliver a coherent circular and sustainable waste policy that heats and powers homes and avoid the expensive shipping of waste abroad will require widespread deployment of energy-from-waste (EfW) plants across the UK .

It calls for a new “Scandinavian” policy approach, which includes minimising all UK waste going to landfill, halting the shipping of non-recyclable waste abroad, removing plastics from the residual waste stream and implementing new policy that drives investment into EfW infrastructure.

It says the sector has untapped potential to help other sectors of the UK economy to decarbonise on the road to net zero, including transport, industry and domestic heating, while the report recognises the waste management industry itself has reduced its own carbon emissions by 69% since 1990.

The think tank suggests new technologies to capture carbon can be fitted to EfW infrastructure – like waste plants in Oslo, Norway which are fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) – harness heat for homes equivalent to a UK city the size of Birmingham as well as create low carbon fuels for trucks and planes.

“Billions of pounds” of private investment, could be unlocked by stronger policy signals from government the MPs add, but “outdated” national policy and “a lack of co-ordination” between local authorities, planners and industry are hindering it.

The MPs state In a foreword to the report: “The need for safe and effective removal of our waste has never been more important. As the UK embarks on our Build Back Better movement, we must no longer simply bury or export the problem. Instead, we should, as other European economies do, treat residual waste as a valuable resource to produce lower carbon heat and energy, alongside a focus on achieving our important recycling targets and investing in innovative recycling technology.

“Energy from Waste (EfW) is not the perfect long term solution for residual waste. But accompanied by a drive to increase heat use and to decarbonise EfW further, it is the best available technology and is an essential part of the net zero transition ahead of us.”

Rebecca Pow, Environment Minister welcomed the report, adding: “Now more than ever, it is crucial we move from a ‘throwaway’ society to one that always looks at waste as a valuable resource. We want to be a world leader in tackling this challenge, which is why we’re transforming our waste system to ensure products are built to last and easier to recycle or repair.

“We will consider the recommendations in this report as we drive forward our ambitious waste reforms and meet our net zero emissions goals.”

500k homes could be heated by burning waste

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