Carbon case for waste technologies over wind energy

13 Jun 2011

A new report from the Environmental Services Association (ESA) in the UK argues that investing stg£1bn in waste infrastructure could yield four times more jobs and save more carbon emissions than if the same amount was invested in wind farms.

The report, Delivering Green Growth – Don’t Waste the Opportunity, aims to quantify the economic growth potential of the waste management sector in the UK. The report is being released ahead of a review on waste policy that Defra (The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) in the UK is expected to release tomorrow.

It compares the jobs created and emissions saved by a stg£1bn investment in a representative ‘basket’ of waste management infrastructure with the same amount invested in onshore wind turbines.

According to the ESA, a stg£1bn waste infrastructure investment would create more than four times more jobs than if the same amount was invested in onshore wind (3,000 jobs compared to 650). It says such an investment in waste infrastructure would also save 4m tonnes of carbon emissions compared to 1.4m tonnes for the same investment in onshore wind.

Speaking today, Matthew Farrow, ESA director of policy, said the UK government has been “overly focused on high-profile green sectors, such as wind power and electric vehicles”.

“Important as these may be, with the economy stumbling and having just adopted very tough carbon budgets, the government is missing a trick if it does not act to realise the potential of the waste-management sector.

“Pound for pound, investment in waste infrastructure creates more jobs and saves more carbon emissions than investment in wind farms.

“Tomorrow’s waste review announcement must show the government recognises the potential of the sector to deliver real ‘green growth’,” he added.

UK’s waste review

The ESA is calling on the government, in its waste review, to put in place the investment framework that will enable the waste-management sector to go forward with its investment plans. It says this framework must include a clear place for energy from waste in energy policy; a more predictable planning system for waste infrastructure; a crackdown on illegal waste businesses.

The ESA is the trade association representing the UK’s waste management and secondary resources industry. Britain’s waste and resource-management sector directly employs more than 142,000 people, with an annual turnover of stg£11bn. The UK produces 75m tonnes of household, commercial and industrial waste a year, equating to 200,000 tonnes per day.

Photo: Matthew Farrow, director of Policy, ESA

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic