Thursday, 31 March 2016

European Investment Bank faces criticism over financing Cardiff Viridor incinerator

European Investment Bank faces criticism over financing Cardiff incinerator

Charos Pix Creative Commons
Cardiff Viridor Incinerator – photo by: Charos Pixsome rights reserved
Matt Franklin, Communications & Programmes Officer
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has been heavily criticised for its role in the funding of an incinerator owned by Viridor in Cardiff. The bank is expected to finance the incinerator to the cost of £110 million in what the local group Cardiff Against the Incinerator (CATI) have called a ‘corrupt decision’ and a ‘disgrace’.
The incinerator which will burn 350,000 tonnes of waste annually, producing 70,000 tonnes of ash, has previously demonstrated poor levels of performance, with ‘plasticky’ smells being reported in homes 2-3km away from the facility. They have been forced to install magnetic equipment after failing to remove metals from the ash, and have been ‘forced to stop’ the processing of ash, due to the uncontrolled spread of toxic dust and pollution from the ash.
“We are disappointed to read that the EIB is still supporting incineration projects. The EIB should be supporting the circular economy and removing waste from the residual stream, not perpetuating outdated technologies that result in the lock-in of valuable resources into the bottom tiers of the waste hierarchy.”
As the new Circular Economy package is adopted by the European Commission, it is a timely reminder that we need to be moving our waste management processes up the waste hierarchy and focussing on keeping our material resources in use through reducing consumption and conserving materials, and reusing and recycling product waste rather than burning resources and producing toxic by-products.
The EIB’s response to Shlomo Dowen’s complaint demonstrates their continued perpetuation of the industry myths around waste incineration. The EIB claims that ‘this facility will allow vital renewable energy to be recovered’ a myth that Mike Brown, Managing Director of Eunomia has called ‘dangerous’ and ‘needs to be stamped out before yet more public money is spent on incinerators’.
The EIB’s support for incineration, and the subsequent landfilling of toxic ash is not a new phenomenon and has been highly criticised by a wide range of sources. In 2008 EEC Bankwatch released a report ‘Fuelling the Fire’ blaming the EIB for undermining efforts by decision-makers to develop ‘further waste prevention, reuse and recycling policies’ in contrast to EU policy which supposedly ‘privileges prevention, reuse and recycling instead of incineration’, and has led the financial support of dozens of incineration based waste projects over the past 15 years.
Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of UKWIN
Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator for UKWIN
The EIB’s support for incineration not only ignores the waste hierarchy and the need to put the EU’s investments in line with the EU objectives and in compliance with EU law, but also ignores that the UK over-uses incineration as waste treatment. An analysis of British statistics on municipal waste management in the last 10 years corroborates that. Despite incineration remains at the bottom of waste hierarchy, it has increased spectacularly in the UK in the recent years, from 8% in 2005 to 27% in 2014, according to Eurostat figures. And while it is true that landfilling has decreased, figures show that by every 100 kilos of Municipal Waste diverted from landfilling between 2005 and 2014, 51 went to incineration and 49 to recycling.
If we are to truly move towards a zero waste society, and take waste management up the waste hierarchy and into the realms of prevention and reuse, it is essential to stop financing false solutions, and it is even more essential that public investments, which are limited are allocated for those projects making a transition towards a circular economy happen.

Viridor energy from waste incinerator at Splott to get £110m finance from European Investment Bank

Saturday, 5 March 2016

CATI condemns Euro funding for the Cardiff Incinerator

The EIB announcement is here and the Walesonline/W.Mail/Echo report is here
Draft decision of the Euro-Investment Bank shows pro-incineration corruption
Incinerating waste is contrary to the circular economy, where we re-use materials of end-of-life products.  “Recovering energy” is a hoary old myth, as the ‘recovery’ is far less than the recovery of materials and CO2 emissions are maximised.
The EIA says “waste is being transformed into vital renewable energy”, an ignorant statement when huge volumes of fumes and CO2 are emitted and 70,000 tonnes of nasty ash is produced per year.
Viridor’s incinerator is badly inefficient in energy terms, about 22%, far from the 60% of ‘high efficiency combined-heat-and-power’ plants that the Welsh government decided should be the aim. The company claims to a future heat-piping system to use the 78% wasted heat energy have come to nought.
The Viridor contract with Cardiff and other local authorities is in fact set up to burn recyclable materials.  80-90% of the municipal waste stream can be recycled, 70% was set as the minimum in  Welsh government targets, but Viridor’s contract builds in a maximum of 65% recyclables.
Viridor’s Cardiff incinerator performance has been poor.  The plume comes to ground, shown by a plasticky smell from potentially toxic compounds in homes as far as 2-3km away.  Viridor failed to extract metals from the ash, and had to put in magnetic equipment under enforcement (by NRW, Natural Resource Wales in April 2015).  Viridor did not set up re-use of the ash, but sent huge amounts to Lamby Way tip (about 50 000 tonnes from January to Sept.) until the tip was full.  Since then, Viridor has been paid £60 000 per month to truck out the ash to England, contrary to the proximity principle of waste management policy.
The EIB belief that the Viridor incinerator ‘reflects Cardiff’s environmental commitment’ is quite false.  The Council started processing the ash on Lamby Way site, unlawfully, but were forced to stop because they could not control the spread of toxic dust and pollution from the ash (Incinerator campaigners hit out over Lamby Way ash dumping).   Cardiff are trying to escape the 70% minimum recycling level by offsetting it with incinerator ash aggregate, which European legislation excludes.  They are also trying to offload Viridor’s incinerator ash to Barry Dock, with lengthy lorry trips though the city and Dinas Powys. (Barry action in High Court against ash dump 

It’s a disgrace for the EIB to invest in such a bad facility, adopting the propagandist arguments of self-serving officials.  We call on Welsh politicians to condemn this and set up an inquiry on how the Welsh Government came to support and subsidise incineration at such a bad plant.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4th March 2016

CATI has written to political leaders in the Senedd, asking them to question the EIB investment in this un-green project, contrary to the EIB mandate.  CATI has also asked Jill Evans MEP to raise the issue with the Bank and to seek disclosure of the biased reports from the Welsh Government on the Viridor project.

ANNEX – UKWIN (United Kingdom Without Incineration Network) writes to EIB (vice-president Jonathan Taylor 3 Mar 2016.

We are disappointed to read that the EIB is still supporting incineration projects.

The EIB should be supporting the circular economy and removing waste from the residual stream, not perpetuating outdated technologies that result in the lock-in of valuable resources into the bottom tiers of the waste hierarchy.

There are no guarantees that the feedstock would not be reduced, re-used and recycled given appropriate education, collection, sorting and treatment infrastructure. Furthermore, there is already more incineration capacity built and under construction in the UK than there is genuinely residual waste to burn.

"We have to have a circular economy concept, so it’s highly important that we’re pumping back materials into the economy rather than burning or burying them." – William Neale, then member of cabinet for European Environment Commissioner Janez Poto─Źnik with responsibility for waste.

The EIB should cease all unsustainable investments in harmful technologies, including incineration, and attempt to de-fund any incineration projects (including gasification and pyrolysis) already funded so as to allow for a rapid move towards a more circular economy and a recycling society.

Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of UKWIN