This HES scandal

As far as I can see there are two competing narratives here.

1) Low bidder screws up and cannot actually do the job. Boo! privatisation.

2) Enviros and others have closed down the high temp incinerators required by the enviros for this waste. Nowt anyone can actually do until new one built.

Anyone got any idea which of these contains even a grain of truth?

10 comments on “This HES scandal

  1. Sounds like 2. The BBC News article says:

    [HES] have pointed out to [the Environment Agency] that the amount of waste produced by the NHS for incineration far outweighs the entire incineration capabilities of the UK, and not just HES.

    A possible alternative explanation is that China’s ban on recycling imports has greatly increased demand (and thus prices) for incineration in the UK. Under this theory, HES is being outbid for incinerator time, which is basically your point #1. At contract renewal time, they will demand more money to cover the rising costs of incineration.

    (It’s analogous to last year’s butter shortage in France, which was also partly due to a mismatch in contract lengths. Is there an economic term for this, something like maturity transformation?)

  2. The Chinese ban on recycling imports amuses me. Greenies in the west virtue-signal by making everyone “recycle”, but instead it got shipped off to China to be burned or chucked in a river. Now the Chinese have said “sod that”, the problem is back at the feet of the Greenies and they don’t know what to do.

  3. I think I heard a man from the Environment Agency saying that there is enough high temperature incineration capacity, but that the price has been going up (limited supply / price increase?). If this is so, I suspect HES were holding back as their costings at current incineration pricing would be loss making. Just my guess.

  4. Tim N
    And the washing (in kitchens), collecting and compressing and shipping all that plastic to China had environmental costs in the UK, which the greenies never take account of. Without a full environmental audit we don’t know for certain but it seems likely that shipping plastic to China was more environmentally harmful than burning it in the UK. All the recycling of plastic achieved was the temporary creation of a tradeable commodity.

  5. Richard North explains in his blog today:

    What, of course, no one asked was why such services are handled by independent contractors. Certainly, this has not always been the case. When I first qualified as an environmental health officer, hospital waste was most often incinerated on-site or removed by local authorities and buried under supervision deep in controlled tips – at minimal cost.

    But, with the progressive encroachment of the EU into waste management, and pollution control, it has become virtually impossible for hospitals economically to provide their own waste incinerators. Simultaneously, the number of controlled tips has been savagely reduced under the assault of EU law, reducing opportunities for the safe disposal of the less offensive, bulky waste.

    Oddly enough, HES says that some of its problems arise because of the reduction in the UK’s high-temperature incineration capacity for the last few years to the UK government, NHS bodies and the Environment Agency. It does not say that much of this is due to the costs of meeting stringent EU emission requirements.

  6. I’m out of the loop here, but I can’t see the problem. In Japan all household waste is sorted and collected by category. Approx bi-monthly they collect recyclables (glass, metal). Fortnightly they take PET plastics. Twice yearly we get a collection of batteries and “other” (broken plates, dead toasters etc.).

    Twice weekly we get a “burnable” collection. That’s food waste and packaging. Burnables go to an incinerator and gets incinerated i.e. at high enough temperature to ensure there are no dioxins in the exhaust. Incinerators cost money to build and run. It’s a price considered worth paying as there are no garbage dumps here.

  7. It’s not the money required to build an incinerator. It’s the ever-changing regulations, and the planning permission, and the licensing and the nimbys. To attempt to build a new one is not an attractive prospect.

    And if the old curmudgeon of eureferendum says it’s the EU, then it is.

  8. “And if the old curmudgeon of eureferendum says it’s the EU, then it is.”

    And its also a gold plated example of why the EU is such a shit idea.

    The EU’s goal was to drastically reduce the amount going to landfill as there is a capacity shortage on the continent. However there is no such shortage in the UK.

    The EU’s disastrous one size fits all policy claims another victim.

  9. @Flubber
    Another example is Great Crested Newts. Common as muck in the UK (every third pond in the south of England will have some), but endangered in some continental countries. Therefore they must have special protection and become a useful tool to block development that we dislike.

  10. The Great Crested Newt is a marker species for land which is to be developed and requires an EIA, especially for mining. It is a similar situation with ancestral aboriginal lands in Australia. The land that they sat around doing bugger all on, slapping their women around and abusing their children (much as they still do today) was always land of high commercial value.

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