SP: 'Government is frittering away progress on waste policy’

17 January 2012

SP: 'Government is frittering away progress on waste policy’

Environment and Infrastructure Secretary Joop Atsma is putting the economic interests of waste incineration firms before the need for a clean and healthy environment. That was the conclusion drawn by SP Member of Parliament Paulus Jansen following Tuesday afternoon’s parliamentary question time, during which the Secretary of State showed his unwillingness to impose enhanced surveillance on the import of waste from Italy or to close incineration plants in the face of overcapacity. ‘This destructive environmental policy is typical of the line set by Atsma over the last year. Just as in other areas, when it comes to processing of waste we are descending to a worryingly low level.’

Paulus JansenThe Netherlands has a huge excess of waste incineration capacity. There is capacity for 7.5 million tonnes, whereas ‘only’ 6 million tonnes of combustible waste per year is discarded. The last government remained ambitious in relation to the environment and wanted to reduce the quantity incinerated to 4.5 million tonnes. This could be achieved by, amongst other things, more intelligent and economical packaging and increased recycling and reuse. “Atsma has nothing to say about this,” says Jansen. “While the entire world is talking about the need for sustainable economics and the development of closed raw material cycles, Atsma carries on sending precious raw materials to the incinerators.”

Overcapacity of incineration plants means that prices fall and much better alternatives are pushed to one side. “So it’s totally stupid that a new incinerator was opened by waste processing firm OMRIN just last year. It would have been better to have closed filthy and outmoded plant.”

Europol again warned last year that the international trade in waste was one of the sectors most infiltrated by criminals. Italy is among the few countries which does not cooperate in the international inspection of waste exports. “In order to make effective control possible waste should be processed as close as possible to source,” says Jansen. “As far as the SP is concerned, we should therefore not issue any further permits for the import of combustible waste, and certainly not if it comes from Italy.”

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