The UK Cleanaway group claims that by allowing cement kilns to burn more hazardous wastes there is the risk of lowering environmental standards. Cleanaway’s warning came as the Environment Agency carries out its review into the Substitute Fuels Protocol, which closes next week. The Protocol governs approvals for the recovery of energy in cement and lime kilns from wastes including contaminated oils, chemicals, sewage sludge, explosives, animal products, and CFC gases.
Cleanaway is concerned (reports letsrecycle.com) that the Protocol will allow cement companies to burn hazardous waste without the public consultations or environmental impact assessments required of specialist hazardous waste incineration facilities.
Gill Weeks, Cleanaway’s regulatory affairs director, said: "If implemented, these proposals will mean that cement factory owners will be able to burn a wider range of highly hazardous wastes without first seeking proper planning permission. There is no need to take the risk of lowering environmental standards by allowing cement kilns to burn more hazardous wastes. The UK already has a specialist and highly regulated incineration industry that handles these wastes to comply with the highest environmental and safety standards," Ms Weeks said.
However, The UK cement industry has hit back at Cleanaway with the British Cement Association accusing Cleanaway of running a "campaign of misinformation" over the use of substitute fuels in cement kilns. Mike Gilbert, British Cement Associationnoted that with the banning of the diluting of hazardous waste with non-hazardous waste for disposal in landfill sites from July 2004, the cement industry said its 15 strategically located works would provide significant capacity to tackle the shortfall of treatment facilities "safely and cleanly".
But, the latest EU legislation will mean the cement industry will need to make "substantial, multi-million pound" investments to reduce emissions even further, the BCA said. Countering other claims from Cleanaway, the BCA insisted that environmental impacts would "remain the key determining factor in whether or not a works is given permission to use a new fuel". And, it said public engagement by the cement industry will go "beyond that required by statute".