By burning COVID 19 plastic waste are we burning our future?
Updated: Oct 7
Burning plastics is a primary source of Green House Gases (GHG)
“CO2 emissions from garbage incinerators are far greater than coal, oil, or natural gas”.
In 2016, U.S. waste incinerators released the equivalent of 12 million tons of carbon dioxide, more than half of which came from plastics ([iii] [iv]) and research clearly shows that burning plastic in incinerators creates the most CO2 emissions among any plastic waste management method[v].
(©Martina on National Geographic)
Yet today 30 more sites in the UK have planning permission pending, and 45 sites are approved, and China already has some 300 waste-to-energy plants operating, with another several hundred in the pipeline [vi].
Also, the UN report that “our streets, beaches and ocean have been hit by a tidal wave of COVID-19 waste including plastic face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer bottles and food packaging[vii]. Most of this will head to landfills or incineration.
On 22 October 2020, a month after ‘Earth overshoot day’, the Frontline Club will be hosting a panel discussion between believers in, and enemies of EfW / Incineration (Energy-from-Waste). Go to the Frontline Club's site here, to book. And come back here if you would like a report of the event.
Being COVID 19 cognisant means that the heat of the debate will have to be carried digitally – join us here and learn, discuss and then offer your opinion.
This is the start of a series of regular environmental discussions, curated and organised by Clear Public Space with the Frontline Club, to investigate the burning environmental issues of the moment.
The Financial Times editor, Roula Khalaf, stated that “radical action is required” and that climate change is “an existential threat that could dwarf the pandemic in severity”[ix] .
Our humans’ treatment of biodiversity and the environment is, truly, the new Frontline.
[i] https://stnicks.org.uk/get-inspired/blog/waste-and-recycling/landfill-vs-incineration-which-is-the-lesser-of-two-evils/ p9 and https://resource.co/article/landfill-vs-incineration-what-s-best-leftover-plastics-12436 file:///C:/Users/Luke%20Douglas-Home/Downloads/%7BB9EA3F97-EEEA-4CD9-9032-A846CCD3D498%7D.pdf [ii] https://resource.co/article/landfill-vs-incineration-what-s-best-leftover-plastics-12436 [iii] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/03/should-we-burn-plastic-waste/ [iv] https://cen.acs.org/environment/sustainability/Should-plastics-source-energy/96/i38 [v] https://www.ciel.org/news/plasticandclimate/ [vi] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/03/should-we-burn-plastic-waste/ [vii] https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2440 [viii] https://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/fcc-proposes-allington-efw-upgrade/ [ix] https://www.ft.com/content/872c4d90-de56-412e-be13-137f10de136c