Sheffield is known as one of the greenest cities in the country due to its green spaces and close proximity to the Peak District, and in 2015 the city was revealed as the sixth greenest city in the UK, with 22.1% of the city’s map being made up of greenery.
However, the city has an additional problem in its waste disposal system. Waste that is placed into the general waste black bins is collected and transported to the Energy Recovery Facility where is it incinerated at high temperatures. The heat created during this process is turned into steam and used to generate heat and electricity. Up to 60MW of heat is supplied to over 140 buildings in Sheffield connected to the District Energy Network. The plant also generates up to 19MW of electricity for the National Grid; supplying enough electricity to power around 22,600 local homes.
Click the image above to learn more about the process.
These facts and figures sound great, and it could be viewed that incinerating the waste is the better option to landfill due to the fact that as a by-product heat and electricity can be generated, but this means taking valuable resources out of the economy. Also, this process releases large amounts of, and in some cases, harmful by-products. The incinerator produces eight tonnes of greenhouse gas every hour, making it the second biggest single generator of carbon dioxide in the city.
Just think, what would happen if that supply of waste disappeared? The city and its' people would have to turn to alternative sources for energy production and hopefully, more people would look towards green renewable sources, such as solar and wind.
Rather than letting materials "go to waste", we need to look towards a circular economy and concepts such as cradle-to-cradle which keep materials in a cycle at the end of the useful life of the item. This can be done through the creation of items that are designed with materials in mind that can be used many times over and products that can be recycled or reused.
So in a situation in Sheffield where a consumer buys a product in plastic packaging, not only do they pay for the packaging when buying the product, but they also pay to the local authority in council tax for facilities and transportation to be provided to recycle or dispose of that packaging, which may, in fact, end up been incinerated for energy production.
This is why we provide a complete packaging-free solution at The Bare Alternative. You bring your own packaging in whatever form of container you want to use to transport goods home.