UK sends garbage to Denmark to avoid UN fines

World Today

Britain has been told it must improve its recycling of household waste, otherwise it will end up paying the European Union more than $300 million in fines a year for dumping garbage in landfill sites.

Some local councils in Britain are shipping their garbage overseas to avoid the fines. Denmark is incinerating the rubbish to generate cheap electricity and central heating. CCTV America’s Malcolm Brabant reported from Fredrikshavn, Denmark.

UK sends garbage to Denmark to avoid UN fines

Britain has been told it must improve its recycling of household waste, otherwise it will end up paying the European Union more than $300 million in fines a year for dumping garbage in landfill sites. Some local councils in Britain are shipping their garbage overseas to avoid the fines. Denmark is incinerating the rubbish to generate cheap electricity and central heating. CCTV America’s Malcolm Brabant reported from Fredrikshavn, Denmark.

The British ship 5,000 tons of garbage each year to an incineration plant in Fredrikshavn, North Western Denmark. The waste, including plastic and wood, comes from building sites and can’t be recycled.

Denmark incinerates more domestic waste than any other European Union nation, and annually takes in about 200,000 tons from Britain.

“Because of the lack of waste in Denmark we have extra capacity. To us it’s about running 100 percent on our plant that we want to, and at the same time, taking care and maybe helping England getting rid of the extra waste that they have in England. They don’t have enough plants to do the incineration,” Chief Engineer Orla Frederiksen said.

Besides the cost of shipping across the North Sea, the British pay the Danes about $40 a ton to dispose of their waste.

“It’s a small price to pay in comparison to the fines that would be levied by the European Union if Britain was to dump this garbage in an open landfill site,” Malcolm Brabant said.

The waste is burned at a temperature of 1100 degrees centigrade. Some environmentalists oppose incineration because they claim it discourages recycling. They also worry about pollution.

“I think what we have here, even though it’s an old plant, the environment part is the best that you can get. We clean the air and the exhaust gases clean very well due to the systems that we have. The amount of carbon dioxide that we are letting out to the fresh air is very very low,” Frederiksen said.

The boiler room within the heart of the complex generates electricity for the national grid. It also provides central heating for the 30,000 residents of this port city.

Denmark is leading European efforts to cut carbon emissions. Britain is lagging behind. And there’s not much more Fredrikshavn can do to help the British with their waste. This plant is running at full capacity. So Britain needs to boost its recycling or potentially face fines of $300 million a year.