Waste Incineration Facilities — [Sir Roger Gale in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:31 am on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 10:31 am, 11th February 2020

The hon. Member read my mind. I was about to say that I do not want to blame local authorities for the actions that they have taken over a time when they have had no money to deal with the issue. They have merely had exhortations from central Government, and there have been no resources to go alongside the actions that they are required to undertake. There is a temptation to try to resolve the problems in a local area by going into partnership with a waste company. That may produce a solution to the local waste disposal problems, but it will do so at the cost of a 20, 30 or even 40-year contract that will fix the future policy of that local authority or consortium of local authorities.

It is imperative to recognise that to move up the waste hierarchy nationally, we need the resources to get away from incineration. There are further exhortations on the matter in the waste strategy. We cannot simply say that local authorities must have separate arrangements for collecting all the waste food in their area; we need to ensure that local authorities have the resources to enable them to move up the waste hierarchy without being subject to the temptation of using large incinerators to solve their problems.

We are at a turning point. The future is net zero; it cannot be incineration. We have to move rapidly up the waste hierarchy, and there are challenges and obstacles to that ambition. There will be some residual waste, but, as hon. Members have mentioned this morning, the current definition of residual waste encompasses things that it should not. For example, only 9% of plastic film is recycled. Most of it is incinerated or goes into landfill. Recently, I asked questions about 47 containers of plastic waste that were exported to Malaysia, and that the Malaysians did not want. They sent the waste back and said that it had been illegally exported to Malaysia.