Air Pollution Key Statistics/ Quotes

According to the World Energy Council, an impartial network including government, research and industry practitioners, waste incineration generates over six times the amount of nitrous oxides compared to other energy from waste technologies, over ten times the amount of sulphur dioxides, and nearly three times the amount of particulate matter. Even compared to landfilling, incineration performs poorly on all counts.

Source: World Energy Council Report ‘World Energy Resources 2016- Waste to Energy’


In its Waste Local Plan, Central Bedfordshire Council has identified four ‘strategic’ sites where large scale recovery operations such as energy from waste plants should be built. The proposed site is NOWHERE NEAR one of these.

In its Waste Local Plan, Central Bedfordshire Council recognises that incinerators should not be built on Green Belt land, and yet the proposed site is Green Belt land.

Source: Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton Borough Councils. Minerals and Waste Local Plan: Strategic Sites and Policies, adopted January 2014


Up to HALF of the volume of compacted waste burnt in an incinerator ends up as ash, much of which is highly toxic, and is dumped in landfills.

Source: The Health Effects of Waste Incinerators, British Society of Ecological Medicine, June 2008


The proposed incinerator will produce over 150,000 tonnes of waste ash and other toxic materials every year, ALL of which will be landfilled.

Source:  Comparable UK energy from waste facility.


Household recycling rates in the UK have all but ground to a halt. In fact, according to the UK Government’s own figures, the amount of household waste recycled in 2016 was actually lower than in 2014. By contrast, the amount of waste incinerated has almost doubled since 2012.

The decrease in landfilling by local authorities in 2016/17 compared to 2015/16 was largely cancelled out by the increase in the amount of waste incinerated. Local authorities have therefore simply shifted the problem from burying waste in the ground to burning it to create toxic gases and ash.

Sources: Statistics on waste managed by local authorities in England in 2016/17, Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, December 2017 / UK Statistics on Waste, Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, February 2018


“There is a logic to generating energy from the waste that we cannot recycle or reuse but it is meant to be the last resort option. What we have created instead is a market-driven system of incinerators which constantly need to be fed. As restrictions have been placed on sending rubbish to landfill, our waste has been diverted into these newly-built incinerators, rather than increasing levels of recycling.”

“My experience of working on air pollution over the last two decades has shown me that the official monitoring is not to be trusted and government reassurances are meaningless.”

Source: Green Party Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, 2018

“Incineration is a very limited, short term solution to a long-term problem. It is an old fashioned solution which blocks modern innovation.”

“Including the incinerators already in the pipeline, we already have more than enough capacity to burn the residual waste that we can’t re-use, or recycle.”

There is a logic to generating electricity from the waste that we cannot recycle, or reuse, but it is meant to be the last resort option….Many councils have signed up to long term contracts with incinerators which show the these have some of the worst recycling rates in the country. In fact, many of these councils have gone backwards and recycle proportionately less than they did six years ago.”

Source: Green Party Report “A burning problem- How Incineration is Stopping Recycling”, 2018

“The circular economy is one where materials are neither burned nor buried, where products are designed to be re-used and recycled and repaired, and where nutrients are retained. One needs no ‘end of pipe’ technology such as incineration because the pipe never ends….Incineration has no place in the circular economy towards which we should be working, as material that cannot be re-used, recycled or composted should be designed out.”

Source: United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN)

“I think incineration is not a good way to go in…It encourages the production of waste. It encourages the production of residual waste. It encourages people to think that we can throw what could be valuable materials, if we were to think about them innovatively, into a furnace and burn them…

“One of the things that worries me is that we are taking these materials, we’re putting them in incinerators, we’re losing them forever, and actually we’re creating carbon dioxide out of them as well, which is not a great thing, when in fact we should be long-term storing them until we have the innovative technologies to re-use them and to turn them into something that is more positively valued.”

Source: Professor Ian Boyd, DEFRA’s Scientific Adviser, speaking at Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, January 2018

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