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Professor Bill Clarke – Director, Centre for Solid Waste Bioprocessing, features in the ABC News segment featuring the incinerator (Sunday 27 August 2017). His comments are taken out of context and Bill has requested we help to put the record straight. His comments follow:

Bill writes: “I saw the segment on the proposed waste incinerator on iview this evening. It was not my intention to convey that I was for the incinerator. My view, as stated in the Conversation article, is that we need to recycle as much material as possible. My view is that composting and digestion are the best route for source separated organics. Recycling plastics, glass, paper and metals also saves energy, reduces the use of raw materials and reduces emissions. The Conversation article shows that the Australian community embraces recycling when given the opportunity.”

“The interview on the ABC only showed a small part of what I said. I did say that approximately 30% of the municipal waste stream in Europe is incinerated (40-45% is recycled, 30% is landfilled). France and Germany incinerate the highest amount of material in the EU. Both Japan and the USA incinerate more than 100 million tonnes per year each. There is well established technology to safely incinerate waste and meet stringent emission standards, but these incineration plants are extremely expensive and must be large to be viable. I think $200 million for a 400,000 t/yr plant sounds low.”

“I also said that data shows incineration tends to reduce recycling rates, contrary to what is claimed in the CRS scoping application (I do not consider the utilisation of incineration ash in road base as recycling). This (low recycling) doesn’t have to be the case, as incineration can be limited to a residual stream, once organics and other recyclables are recovered. Inevitably, there will be residuals in the municipal waste stream that no one wants, such as thin film plastics and composites in household goods (We might one day reach the point where all good can be dismantled and recycled, but we are a long way from this).”

“So, even in a high recycling municipality, what do we do with these residuals? They either need to be stored in a landfill or destroyed through a process like incineration. Interestingly, European experiences have shown that even landfills containing supposedly inert materials such as car bodies will eventually produce biogas.”

“I see the CRS proposal relies on receiving waste from NSW. While I believe it is a good idea for groups of councils to combine to provide high quality waste management facilities, I do not like the idea of exporting waste to other municipalities. The impacts of haulage and the perceptions of the receiving community (which might affect for example property prices) I believe are not fully costed.”

“So, I hope this gives you a better idea of my view. I’m certainly not convinced that the proposed incinerator is economically viable. With proper recycling measures in place, the local waste stream I imagine will be too small to justify the cost.”

For further information, please see these links that Bill provided for you:
Bill Clarke’s bio
Bill’s latest comments at The Conversation