SWANSEA’S Tir John landfill site should be extended if the only alternative option for the city’s rubbish is incineration, according to AM Mike Hedges.
Mr Hedges, who chairs the Welsh Assembly’s environment committee, said he felt burning black bag waste was the worst way to dispose of it.
“I have serious concerns about incineration,” he said.
“It creates carbon dioxide, nitrous dioxide and possibly dioxins (toxic compounds).
“I don’t think landfill is the best option – it’s the least worst.”
The Swansea East AM said everyone should follow the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra to minimise waste.
He called on manufacturers and packaging companies to take more responsibility and felt there was no place for any material that could not be recycled.
The Tir John landfill site in Port Tennant, which is in Mr Hedges’ constituency, is due to close for good in 2022.
It currently accepts about 37,000 tonnes of waste per year – and council chiefs in Swansea will have to decide what to do next.
The most likely options are a new regional energy-from-waste plant – which involves incineration – or sending the rubbish to an existing energy-from-waste plant in Wales.
Mr Hedges said he was not advocating the continued use of Tir John per se, but that another area – or cell – could potentially be created there to accept smaller quantities of black bug rubbish.
“A big hole in the ground (for rubbish) is a very bad decision – unfortunately, incineration is even worse,” said the Labour AM, although he accepted it was needed for medical waste.
Mr Hedges also called on the public to play their part.
“Some people are putting food waste in black bags – it’s ridiculous,” he said.
Environment body Natural Resources Wales (NRW) awards or withholds operating permits for incinerators, but Mr Hedges claimed it would not know what was being burnt and at what temperature all of the time.
There was also the residual ash to deal with, he said.
Swansea councillor Clive Lloyd, whose patch covers Port Tennant, said Mr Hedges’ incineration knowledge may be greater than his, but that people in the area would not be happy if Tir John stayed open for any longer than planned.
“They have put up with landfill for too long,” said Cllr Lloyd.
“Tir John was originally due to close in 2021, but there’s more space in the cell that’s left.
“We’ve also got a sewage plant over in Crymlyn Burrows. We have put up with enough odours.”
Swansea waste chiefs have said that only hard plastics like yoghurt pots and milk cartons can be recycled and reprocessed these days, not things like carrier bags and cling film.
The Welsh Government wants Wales to be a zero-waste society by 2050, and said energy-from-waste plants were a “transitionary step”.
Supporters of these plants point out they stop many thousands of tonnes of rubbish being landfilled, as well as generating power.
In May, Swansea Council’s planning committee unanimously rejected an application by Biffa Waste Services to build an energy-from-waste facility for trade and commercial waste at Swansea Enterprise Park.
NRW did not object to the proposal, and council officers recommended it for approval – but there were more than 2,500 objections from people and politicians in the area.