Incinerators: Carbon Emissions

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 21st October 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the CO2 emissions limits for energy from waste incinerators; whether they monitor local authorities to ensure that less CO2 from waste is produced each year; and if so, how.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Municipal waste incinerators are regulated by the Environment Agency (EA) in England under environmental permits. Under the permitting process, the EA ensures that the global warming potential of the proposed incinerator will be minimised by the use of Best Available Techniques (BAT - including those set out in the European BAT reference notes) in order to maximise the energy efficiency of the plant and minimise nitrous oxide emissions from its exhaust gas cleaning system. This ensures that the amount of greenhouse gas emitted from the plant per unit of energy generated is minimised.

The EA does not assess (nor place any limits on) the actual amount of CO2 emitted by the plant and municipal waste incinerators are not covered by the European Union’s Emissions Trading System. The amount of CO2 that an incinerator releases is directly proportional to the amount and composition of waste it burns and cannot subsequently be controlled without being captured and stored (carbon capture and storage).

The Government does not monitor CO2 produced from waste at local authority level.

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