One thing we learned during the lead up to our Challenge Week, was that none of our household waste in Swale is being sent to landfill. Instead, it is all sent to be incinerated at Allington, and turned into energy. The plant produces enough power to run Maidstone and Tonbridge!
A few members of our team joined a tour of the facility, run by Spanish company FCC, organised by Nicki from @zerowastekent
It was clear from what we could see that there is a great deal of single use plastic which is being incinerated. Incinerator plants like this certainly appear to solve the problem of landfill (especially in a densely populated country like ours), but it is not the perfect solution. Whilst toxic gasses are filtered and emissions kept low (we're not really sure how low this is in reality!), it is clear that it is overall a better solution to tackle the problem at source: reducing the amount of waste we produce, and the kind of waste that is being incinerated. As the WTE plant is a private enterprise, that sell electricity and aggregates made from the bottom-ash, it is clearly in their interest to burn as much waste as they can - as rubbish = energy + £££
The visit was fascinating but has raised more questions for some of us: the 'science' of waste disposal and recycling is rather complicated, and it's not always clear what the best solution is, as pros and cons can often offset each other.
A big thank you to Nicki from @zerowastekent for inviting us along.