This week the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the UK's foremost climate science body, confirmed that Energy from Waste (EfW) is the best solution for managing non-recyclable waste during the transition to a zero-carbon economy.
The CCC is an independent body set up by an Act of Parliament to advise the Government. The conclusion on EfW was made in the CCC’s Sixth Carbon Budget, which makes recommendations to the Government on how to ‘build back better’ from Covid-19 and drastically cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The CCC calls for strong action to slash emissions. This includes banning landfill, boosting recycling rates, and investing in Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) technology for EfW facilities by the 2040s.
North London Waste Authority’s (NLWA’s) approach to managing waste supports this bold agenda, including its committed focus on waste reduction and recycling, as well as its sustainable plan for treating non-recyclable waste.
The report comes as NLWA invests in vital sustainable infrastructure to tackle the Climate Emergency and jump-start the local Green Recovery, known as the North London Heat and Power Project (NLHPP). The NLHPP will drive up recycling rates, divert waste from landfill, and unlock one of the largest low-carbon district heat networks in London.
Landfill is singled out as a key target in efforts to tackle the Climate Emergency. The CCC is categorically clear that landfill has no place in a zero-carbon future, with a ban on biodegradable waste targeted for 2025 and for all waste, including plastics, by 2040.
To help protect the planet, North London Waste Authority is taking long-term, decisive action now to ensure its residents' waste stays out of landfill in the future. NLWA is already a benchmark for other waste authorities, with an existing Energy from Waste plant at the Edmonton EcoPark – one of the oldest in Europe – having diverted waste from landfill for 50 years.
The plant is being replaced with a world-class Energy Recovery Facility (ERF), which will use non-recyclable waste as a resource for society to generate efficient, low-carbon heat and power for local homes and the country’s National Grid.
This includes the potential to heat over 10,000 homes at Meridian Water, one of the Capital's flagship sustainable new developments. The ERF will replace heat generated by gas boilers, and electricity produced by power plants that use virgin fossil fuels. This comes as the CCC calls for a ban on new gas boilers by the early 2030s and unabated gas power stations by the same time.
The ERF will be complemented by major new recycling facilities. This includes a Resource Recovery Facility to extract recyclable materials from bulky waste, as well as the first ever public Reuse and Recycling Centre at the site.
Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of NLWA, said:
"This is a key turning point for our planet, and NLWA is acting now to cut greenhouse gas emissions from waste. We’re proud to be a driving force behind Net Zero in north London. Investing in green infrastructure is more important than ever, and we’re already making rapid progress to construct our new recycling and energy recovery facilities in Edmonton. This goes hand in hand with our trailblazing action to reduce waste and boost recycling.
"As we look ahead to Cop-26 next year, I will keep up the pressure up on the Government to deliver the urgent reforms that are simply not happening quickly enough. The Government needs to step up now to introduce a deposit return scheme and the polluter-pays principle for plastic waste. As made clear by the Committee on Climate Change, we simply don't have time for more dither and delay".
The report highlights the vital role that CCUS technology on EfW facilities will play in achieving Net Zero. CCUS is a proven technology used around the world to capture CO2. The technology is new to the EfW sector, and the publicly-owned and operated NLHPP will have the capability to be one of the first EfW facilities in the UK to retrofit CCUS, when UK infrastructure for transportation and storage is developed.
This follows an announcement from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action last month, which highlighted the importance of CCUS on EfW facilities – particularly their ability to rebalance emissions in hard-to-decarbonise sectors, such as aviation and cement.
Work is progressing rapidly at the Edmonton EcoPark to build the NLHPP. 2021 is set to be a landmark year, with construction starting on the Resource Recovery Facility and Reuse and Recycling Centre. The NLHPP is already a core part of the local Green Recovery. This year alone, 12 apprentices have joined the Project in life-changing roles covering civil engineering, construction, quantity surveying and business management. A further 23 people have received valuable skills training courses, to equip them with the skills needed for a career in construction.