Recovering energy from our waste
Our greatest challenge is to see this waste as a valuable resource that we can use.
Our rubbish only really becomes waste when we bury it in a hole in the ground.
Everything we throw away contains valuable materials and the potential to generate energy. Our waste, and the energy contained within it, should not be wasted.
If we use the right waste treatment technologies we can recover resources and generate energy, not waste.
Wales produces enough waste to fill the millennium stadium every 20 days.
Landfill is not a sustainable option
Wales has to manage its waste more wisely.
Once we have reduced and recycled as much of our waste as we can, the most sustainable solution for the waste that is left over is to treat it in order to recover valuable resources.
Building new waste treatment facilities in Wales will turn the waste that we can’t reduce or recycle into something we can use.
New waste treatment facilities can treat our left over waste, allowing us to recover this resource and use it to generate heat and electricity. We can use food and non-recyclable waste as a rich source of renewable energy.
Changing the technologies we use to treat waste in Wales will create huge benefits for our environment, and our economy.
“over 90 percent of products are thrown away within six months of purchase” – Welsh Government
Putting our waste to work
So, if we need to build new waste treatment facilities in Wales, what technologies are available to treat our food and non-recyclable waste?
The following pages offer an explanation of the various different waste treatment technologies that are available to turn our food and non-recyclable waste into renewable energy and what benefits they can bring.
Portsmouth energy recovery facility image provided courtesy of
Veolia Environmental Services UK plc
We all help to create a huge amount of waste. We buy, we use, and then we throw away over 90 percent of products within the first six months.*
The benefits of new waste technologies
Changing the technologies we use to treat food and non-recyclable waste in Wales will create huge benefits for our environment, our economy and our well-being.
A new green economy: Millions of pounds will be invested into our economy with each new waste treatment facility we build in Wales. Changing the way we treat our waste offers us new opportunities for economic growth.
More jobs, better training: If the whole of the UK reaches the 70% recycling rate proposed by the Welsh Government, up to 50,000 new jobs could be created. The construction and operation of new waste treatment facilities will create thousands more.
Renewable energy: By treating our food and non-recyclable waste in a different way, we can generate energy and reduce fossil fuel consumption. By doing so we will reduce the amount of harmful gases we release into our atmosphere.
Waste as a resource: The use of new technologies will allow us to turn our waste into a resource we can use. A number of technology options offer us an opportunity to generate power for local homes and businesses.
Achieving landfill targets: We have strict landfill targets to meet. If we fail Wales will have to pay millions of pounds in fines. Wales will only meet these targets if we limit the waste we create, reuse and recycle as much as we can, and use new technologies to treat the waste left over.
A better way: Landfill is no longer an option. It comes at a high cost for both our economy and our environment. Developing new behaviours and new facilities offers a better deal for our environment, our economy and our local communities.
Greener, safer communities
Your environment is the air you breathe, the water you drink and the ground you walk on. Every new waste treatment facility will need to meet the strictest of environmental standards to ensure that your environment is not affected.
Before the first brick is laid, every new facility will need to be granted an environmental permit by Environment Agency Wales. Permits will only be granted to facilities that:
- do not cause pollution to the environment or harm people’s health
- meet the requirements of strict UK and European environmental law
The responsibility of operators and environmental regulators continues throughout the operational life of a facility. Natural Resources Wales (previously the Environment Agency) will constantly monitor waste treatment facilities through:
- ongoing assessment of environmental performance
- monitoring of emissions and regular inspection of facilities
- taking enforcement action and prosecuting when required
Not treating our waste is not an option. Through effective design, permitting and management, every new waste treatment facility will help us deal with the waste that we all help create.
“we will only grant a permit if we are satisfied that a facility will not harm the health of local residents or damage the environment” – Natural Resources Wales
*Welsh Assembly Government "Towards Zero Waste, One Wales: One Planet"