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UK waste confronts its carbon problem

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Financial Times or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: The UK's energy-from-waste sector, which involves converting household waste into energy, is undergoing scrutiny as the government pauses environmental permits for new plants and plans to include the sector in its emissions trading scheme
• This move aims to align with the UK's net zero emissions target by 2050

🔭 The context: Energy-from-waste plants have increased in the UK since landfill taxes were introduced in 1996 to reduce waste
• These plants, 60 of which are operational and 12 under construction, accounted for about 3% of the UK's power generation in 2022 but also emitted over 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The sector's growth has contributed significantly to the UK's emissions, prompting concerns about its sustainability and efficiency in waste management
• With a focus on reducing waste and increasing recycling, there is a push to ensure these plants align with broader environmental goals

⏭️ What's next: As the cost of carbon emissions is expected to rise, energy-from-waste plants are exploring technologies like carbon capture to reduce their environmental impact
• However, there's debate over the effectiveness and affordability of such technologies, as well as the broader strategy for managing waste in the UK

💬 One quote: "There are a lot of worried investors about the implications of this political interference in what should just be a purely technical determination," said Jacob Hayler, executive director of the Environmental Services Association.

📈 One stat: The sector emitted more than 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2022, up 5% from 2020.

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