UK waste incinerators more likely to be in deprived areas

Waste incinerators are three times more likely to be situated in the most deprived and ethnically diverse areas of the UK, it has been revealed, raising fears about the impact on air quality and the health of vulnerable people.

Data obtained by Unearthed, the investigative arm of Greenpeace, found that areas in the top 20% for deprivation host nearly one-third of the waste incinerators in the UK. The richest, least ethnically diverse areas are home to less than 10% of incinerators, which are increasingly being used to deal with the UK’s waste.

Meanwhile, recycling rates are falling, with the government likely to miss a target of 50% recycling in 2020. The UK recycling rate was 45.0% in 2018, down from 45.5% in 2017.

Unearthed identified 90 incinerators in the UK, many of which are run by companies such as Viridor, Veolia and Suez. These include energy-from-waste incinerators, hospital waste incinerators and waste wood incinerators. There are also 50 more proposed or in development, according to government data and data collected by the anti-incineration group UKWIN.