Ban the bag or burn the bag?

We have all seen the horrific pictures of plastic floating in the oceans. Greenpeace assails our screens with posed pictures of a dead turtle and artfully placed plastic waste.? We are told that within x years there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans and so on and so forth.

If these people would stick to the truth rather than exaggeration, they would possibly get more traction.

How and why is plastic finding its way to the ocean?? The?Global Warming Policy Foundation has produced a report and this video to highlight the situation. Quote.

  • Most of the plastic waste comes from just a few countries, mostly in Asia and Africa.
  • 25% is ?leakage? from Asian waste management processes ? the rest is waste that has never been collected, but is simply thrown into rivers.
  • But European countries inject huge quantities of waste into Asian waste management streams, ostensibly for recycling. As much as 20% ? millions of tons every year ? ends up in the oceans and will continue to do so.
  • Since the Chinese banned waste imports at the start of the year, shipments have been diverted to other Asian countries with even weaker environmental controls.
  • EU recycling is therefore a major contributor to marine waste and increasing recycling will therefore simply increase marine litter.?End Quote.

In New Zealand, the same issue applies. We used to export tonnes of baled plastic to China but now this plastic is simply being stacked in warehouses here. Quote.

Sanitary landfills have been the traditional way of disposing of municipal solid waste. To plan, license, build, operate and inspect sanitary landfills involves an array of specialists, from waste engineers to geologists, who ensure that they are safe for disposal of MSW. The EU,through its Landfill Directive, regulates safe disposal of municipal solid waste, including plastic.Environmentalists have strong objections to landfilling, driven by concerns over emissions of methane ? a greenhouse gas ? as their contents break down. In fact it is possible to collect most of this for use as a fuel, and the directive sets strict rules to prevent environmental leakage of pollutants from landfill sites and requires pretreatment of municipal solid waste before land filling. This has led to a sharp decrease in the number of landfill sites in Europe, with a concomitant increase in fly-tipping. End?Quote.

So the answer is incineration: something else the Greens object to. Quote.

Incineration stands apart as the best way to deal with municipal solid waste. Because it does not require waste to be sorted, it does not suffer from the problems of leakage that are found with almost every other approach. Moreover, modern municipal solid waste incinerators are designed to burn everything, including even sewage sludge, an important source of plastic pollution (including microplastics) in rivers and the ocean. […]

However, the advantages of incineration are so great that the sorting of waste should be seen as an entirely redundant step. For example, incineration leaves only 15?20% of the original weight in the form of ash, and this can be landfilled directly in specialist landfills, or in standard ones after treatment; much is recycled, for example as road-building materials. And although new EU legislation stipulates that by 2030 only 10% of municipal solid waste can be landfilled, the success of the incineration approach means that some European countries are already landfilling less than 3%.

Moreover, it is envisaged that we will soon ?mine? incinerator ash for valuable metals, thus further reducing the quantity that has to be dumped. Incineration plants are required to have very low emissions levels, and as a result incineration is healthier and more environmentally friendly than any of the waste management options supported by green ideologues.

The whole Swedish incinerator network (32 plants in 2009) emitted only about half a gram of dioxin in 2009, which is 200 times less than in 1985. […]

Moreover, mixed municipal solid waste incineration is by far the best waste management option if one is concerned about greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to the simple fact that if you put mixed waste, including plastic packages or organic waste, directly to incineration you can effectively reduce the need to burn coal or natural gas. Despite this, both environmentalists and the European Union vehemently oppose incineration, arguing incorrectly that it increases carbon emissions.?End Quote.

The report concludes: Quote.

[The anti-incineration] stance is absurd, and involves a belief in a future utopia in which householders and businesses take part in ever more complex sorting schemes. It is also driven in part by an unholy alliance of green NGOs and waste management firms with a shared interest in having three trucks coming to take away waste, rather than a single one that removes bags of mixed waste, hygienically sealed and ready to be burned. The irony is of course that, at least in EU, these multiple streams of waste meant for ?recycling? will probably all end up in the same place anyway ? an incinerator. End quote.