Greenpeace and the like want to tell us that burning plastics produces emissions. Sure, obviously, this is true. Plastics are hydrocarbons, burning them produces emissions. So, and therefore, we should all be recycling plastics, not burning them. This being a failure of logic:
Carbon emissions from waste disposal are increasing because of the expansion of energy-from-waste incineration plants, a coalition of campaigners has warned.
By 2030 the government’s push to increase incineration of waste will increase CO2 emissions by 10m tonnes a year, mostly from the burning of plastics, the groups said. They argue that the growth in energy-from-waste incineration means the UK will not be able to meet its commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
OK, let us just accept all of that as being true. They’re thus calling for:
….a recycling target of 70% by 2030 under the environment bill, as per the Committee on Climate Change recommendation for meeting the UK carbon budgets and a net zero carbon economy by 2050;
And what’s the bit we’re not being told? Quite – what are the emissions from recycling?
There are costs, as well as benefits, to any- and every- thing. It is not true that recycling is exempt from this fact. What we need to know is that are the costs – in this case emissions – from recycling? Only then can we work out whether burning the stuff – and capturing the energy, don’t forget – has higher or lower costs than the recycling.
There’s even an easy way to do this. Stick a carbon tax upon everything and that decision is already embedded in the market prices everyone faces. Every decision in the economy will therefore contain that vital information. Presumably there’s some reason why Greenpeace is against the obvious solution.