The Tysley Incinerator – Shaz Rahman

A new report from the ‘United Kingdom Without Incineration Report (UKWIN)’ organisation has stated the considerable downsides to incineration as a way of producing electricity. The report is available on their website:

A few key findings from the report include;

  1. The release of CO2 from incinerators makes climate change worse and comes with a cost to society that is not paid by those incinerating waste.

  1. The ‘carbon intensity’ of energy produced through waste incineration is more than 23 times greater than that for low carbon sources such as wind and solar, incineration is clearly not a low carbon technology.

  1. Composition analysis indicates that much of what is currently used as incinerator feedstock could be recycled or composted, and this would result in carbon savings and other environmental benefits. Thus, incinerating waste comes with a significant ‘opportunity cost’.

There are many more points that are worth reading within the report. This report highlights the key problems with incineration, of which we have been campaigning on for many years at Birmingham Friends of the Earth (BFOE). Birmingham City Council has a very important decision to make about the incinerator which operates in Tyseley. Veolia (the operators) are due to walk away from the incinerator in 2019 and the council have to decide whether they will take on the running of the incinerator, find another organisation to run it or shut it down. The technology is outdated and it should be shut down.

BFOE have consistently argued that the incinerator in Tyseley should be shut down. It depresses recycling rates, and with Birmingham currently only recycling 23% of its waste we need this to change. The incinerator burns a lot of recyclables.

At the time of writing there are rumours as to whether an incinerator tax will be announced by central Government. If this happens it will make the business case for keeping the incinerator, even shakier than it already is. The reason that this tax may come into force is that it depresses recycling rates.

On top of this, the incinerator is arguably the single biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the city. The incinerator is a big obstacle to Birmingham reaching its carbon reduction policies of reducing CO2 emissions by 60% by 2027 against a 1990 baseline.

We at BFOE are against Birmingham City Council keeping the incinerator open beyond 2019. If you agree, could you contact either your councillor or MP, about shutting it down. Birmingham City Council is considering running the incinerator past 2019. We think this is a terrible idea for Birmingham. The idea should be scrapped.