To deal with our waste sustainably, we need to focus on prevention, reuse, recycling and the generation of 100% renewable energy via anaerobic digestion

Eventually we want to achieve zero waste. For details of our zero waste vision, see this presentation.

Zero waste will maximise our resource efficiency and minimise our climate impacts.

Councils can help to achieve this by:

  • collecting recycling separately at the kerbside
  • collecting food waste separately, for composting or anaerobic digestion
  • providing many recycling-focused household waste recycling centres
  • reusing furniture and appliances from bulky collection schemes.

The residual waste left over can then be processed using Material Recycling Facility (MRF) technology to:

  • remove the bulk of the biological activity (in case the output is landfilled)
  • release further recyclables, including plastics
  • create a low-grade compost.

For more information on best practice solutions, see the briefings below, particularly Sorting residual waste and the write up of our Taking out the Rubbish conference.

Friends of the Earth opposes incineration because it:

  • Causes climate change, while generating energy inefficiently.
  • Destroys valuable materials that could be recycled into new products. Recycling saves far more energy than is created by burning waste as it avoids having to make products from virgin materials.
  • Doesn't provide an incentive for reducing waste, as incinerators need a minimum amount of rubbish to operate efficiently. Contracts for incinerators are long, requiring waste for 20 years.

For more details, see the briefings below.

If you're concerned about a local incinerator plan, check if your local Friends of the Earth group is already involved in a campaign against it. Find your nearest group here.

UKWIN (UK Without Incineration) is a network of anti-incineration groups. You can see if there is a campaign group in your area on UK WIN's website, and there's also an interactive map of current and proposed incinerators.

Friends of the Earth Europe is campaigning for the EU to measure and reduce its resource use - find more information here.



The Waste Review
(522K) March 2011
This briefing explains what we're calling for in the new waste policy for England.

Recycling: why it's important and how to do it 
(283K) September 2008
This briefing explains the benefits of recycling and the best practice which councils should implement to improve doorstep collection schemes and maximise recycling rates.

Recycling collections - source separated or commingled? 
(177K) September 2008
This briefing outlines the advantages of separating recyclable materials at the kerbside in doorstep collection schemes.

Anaerobic digestion
(101K) September 2007
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a treatment that composts biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen, producing a biogas that can be used to generate 100% renewable electricity and heat.

Food waste collections 
(165K) September 2007 
Separate food waste collections from households offer the biggest potential for improving recycling rates, meeting targets for reducing how much we landfill and reducing the pressure for new incinerators.

Sorting residual waste
(1659K) June 2008
A guide for councils to save money and help the environment by cutting back on residual waste, via increased recycling and reuse.

Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) 
(170K) September 2007
This briefing outlines how LATS works and the best way for councils to meet these targets without incineration.

Mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) 
(178K) September 2008
This briefing examines the MBT process and explains the potential benefits and disadvantages of using this technology.

Up in smoke
(190K) September 2007
This briefing looks at the reasons why Friends of the Earth opposes incineration, and covers the waste of natural resources, the effect on recycling and climate change and the pollution from air emissions and toxic ash.

Dirty truths: incineration and climate change
(755K) May 2006 
This briefing investigates the climate impacts of energy from waste and residual waste treatment and shows that incinerators that produce electricity emit more greenhouse gases than gas fired power stations.

Pyrolysis, gasification and plasma
(148K) September 2009
Pyrolysis, gasification and plasma technologies are thermal processes that use high temperatures to break down waste - this briefing explains how they work and what their benefits and disadvantages are.

(233K) September 2008
Autoclaving involves the high-pressure sterilisation of waste by steam, and is increasingly being proposed as a treatment for municipal waste.

Long waste contracts
(283K) August 2009
The key risks of signing up to a long waste contract, and 10 key questions to ask if your council is considering doing so.

Private finance initiative (PFI) funding for waste infrastructure
(324K) August 2008
This briefing explains how the PFI process is applied to big waste projects, the problems and opportunities associated with waste PFIs, and some possible ways to get involved with the process to achieve better outcomes.

Up in smoke leaflet
(262K) October 2007
This colour leaflet provides an introduction to why Friends of the Earth opposes incineration of mixed municipal waste and offers solutions for dealing with our rubbish. For paper copies visit our online shop's free resources section.


More jobs, less waste: potential for job creation through higher rates of recycling in the UK and EU 
(895K) September 2010 
New research showing more than 50,000 new recycling jobs would be created across the country if the UK set more ambitious recycling targets.

Gone to waste: the valuable resources that European countries bury and burn
(533K) October 2009
This report looks at the amount of recyclable materials we landfill and incinerate in the UK, and the EU. It reveals the value of those materials and the potential climate benefits of recycling them.

Taking out the Rubbish conference 
(387K) April 2009 
This is a write-up of the talks and Q&A sessions from a conference on maximising recycling and phasing out residual waste.

Understand the planning system

Understanding the planning system is essential to running an anti-incinerator campaign - it's the best way to get your voice heard and have an influence on the decisions being made. Many useful resources to help you get involved in the right way and at the right stage of planning applications can be found here. Although the system may seem arcane and intimidating, don't be put off by the complexity.

Be aware that it's important to respond to planning applications within 21 days and to support your letter of objection with relevant planning policies.

Waste development frameworks
(228K) September 2009
This guide explains how best to engage with the structure of the waste planning framework and summarises Friends of the Earth's waste local planning policy.

This guide is part of the Community Rights Resource Pack, an accessible yet comprehensive set of campaigner guides written to help local people and communities get their voice heard in decisions which affect them.

PPS10: Planning for Sustainable Waste Management 
(53K) November 2005
This briefing note summarises the key differences between Planning Policy Statement 10 and previous planning guidance on waste and explains how to use PPS10 to influence what is happening on waste in your area.

Campaign guides

NB - The planning sections of the following guides have been superceded by the planning resources here.

The PDF versions provided here are meant for online reading and to print out relevant pages. We do not recommend to print off the entire documents. Please be aware that the file sizes are quite large and might take a while to download.

How to win: campaign against incinerators
(442K) September 2000
An introductory guide, updating and summarising information found in the Incineration Campaign Guide.

Incineration campaign guide
(675K) December 1997
A comprehensive guide for campaigning against incineration. The 'How to Win: Campaign against incinerators' guide above updates and summarises information from this guide.


Case studies

We've put together some case studies of local campaigns against incinerators:


UK Without Incineration (UKWIN)
Network of anti-incineration groups

GAIA - Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives