Palma.—The first of some 40'000 tons of waste arrived from Catalonia to be treated at the Son Reus incinerator last week and there is talk of more being imported from Italy and even the UK.

However, there is a growing movement against the scheme with local and international environmental groups joining the campaign along with political parties of resident associations.

Even the Mayor of Palma, Mateu Isern has admitted that it is not the best solution and that he is open to alternatives.
Now, a new European study has discovered that incinerators already operating in some EU states have the capacity to burn more than the non-recyclable waste generated but the industry is still pushing to further expand incineration capacity in the European region.

The study found that: l Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom already have more incineration capacity than trash to burn. l As a result, shipping of waste for burning has increased across national borders, which contradicts the proximity principle and causes unnecessary CO2 emissions. l Despite already burning 22 percent of EU's waste, the industry plans to increase the European incineration capacity, undermining the objectives set out in the Waste Framework Directive (WFD 2008/98/EC) and the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe, which advocate the prioritization of waste prevention, re-use and recycling. l The increase in waste shipments may endanger accomplishment of recycling targets, particularly in those countries that are currently further away from achieving them. “If the European Commission is to maintain its commitment to limit incineration to non-recyclables by 2020, the strategy should be to close incinerators and not to build new ones. The objectives of the Resource Efficiency Roadmap and recycling targets won't be achieved unless the European Commission tightly controls the European incineration capacity,” said Joan Marc Simon, coordinator of GAIA in Europe.

GAIA is an international alliance of more than 650 grassroots organisations in over 90 countries that works to stop incinerators and promote safe, sustainable and just alternatives.

Germany “In Germany the objectives of the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe are nothing but empty words, because there are hardly any obstacles against building new incineration plants, and the recycling targets of packaging material are still too low. Improvements in waste prevention and recycling are happening only slowly, if at all”, said Hartmut Hoffmann of BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany).

United Kingdom “The European Commission has warned the United Kingdom to pursue reuse and recycling rather than overcapacity of incineration, and has noted that: ‘Countries like Denmark and Switzerland are burning much more than they should and that's not good'. However, the Government has not even been monitoring the situation in the UK, despite the fact that there is already more incineration capacity in the UK than genuinely residual waste”, said Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of UKWIN (UK Without Incineration Network).

Spain “Majorca has the sad honour to host the largest incinerator in southern Europe. As a result the citizens pay the highest waste fee in Spain and suffer the health impacts associated with burning their and others' waste. The Waste Framework Directive was the excuse to build an incinerator that depends on waste imports to operate and oppresses recycling. In 2011 84 percent of the municipal waste was incinerated, only 16 percent recycled”, said Margalida Ramis, coordinator of the local group GOB. “If incineration overcapacity continues and/or is extended it will either be at the expense of taxpayers - because it will increase waste fees to compensate for the unused installed capacity - or it will hijack waste prevention and recycling - because there will not be enough waste to burn. The European Commission should control the supply of incineration capacity in the European market to ensure it doesn't endanger prevention and recycling. It should also remove all the economic and legal incentives that today make burning waste preferable to recycling,“ concluded Simon.

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