Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Solving waste disposal problems-A Comparative Case Study

  The regulatory regime in the UK prohibits the cement industry responding rapidly as new wastes, possibly ones that are a problem for the country to dispose of, become available. An anecdote best illustrates this point:

    —  In 1999, a proportion of Belgium's livestock population was contaminated with PCBs. To protect the health of the consumers, the government ordered the destruction of all contaminated meat and derived products. As there was insufficient incineration capacity to achieve this, the government ruled that three cement works should use the material as fuel. In the four months at the end of that year, 7,500 tonnes of powders and 10,000 tonnes of fats were used at the factories.

    —  In 2001 at the time of the Foot and Mouth outbreak carcasses were being incinerated at low temperatures in open pits with no environmental controls and high levels of dioxins being emitted. The UK cement industry offered to incinerate the carcasses in cement kilns and recover energy from them. The industry was told it could only burn the carcasses if it did not make cement at the same time. To use the carcasses as a fuel would require the full application of the SFP. Carcasses continued to be incinerated in the open at huge environmental expense.


  LCUK embraces the need for full engagement with the stakeholders in its business in order to maintain and preserve its licence to operate. This is particularly important during the introduction of new processes, materials or fuels. The systematic approach the company takes to this in general and specifically when introducing new fuels is summarised in Annex 1.


  LCUK's vision for the UK cement industry is based on the sustainable provision of an essential product to develop and enhance the built environment at minimum impact to the physical and social environment.


  LCUK urges the Committee to consider initiating a full review of the regulatory framework governing the use of waste derived material in cement manufacturing; the cement industry's potential to contribute to not only the solutions to hazardous waste disposal but also a wide range of other wastes; and to ensure that best environmental options are adopted in the use of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes.

  LCUK requests the Committee to consider that any new regulatory system governing the use of waste derived materials in the cement manufacturing process should reflect:

    —  European best practice in terms of permitting processes, without loss of environmental rigour;

    —  The extensive knowledge and experience gained in the UK and the rest of Europe in the use of waste derived material since the Committee last looked at this issue; and

    —  The UK cement industry's public commitment to earning and retaining its 'licence to operate' through its environmental performance and its stakeholder engagement activities.

    —  The competitive position of the UK cement industry that can work to maximise environmental additionality.

  Lafarge invites the Committee to visit one or more of its mainland European plants to see and hear more about the use of hazardous and non-hazardous waste in the cement manufacturing process.

  Lafarge would be happy to present oral evidence to the Committee in terms of UK and European comparisons.

Lafarge Cement UK

17 May 2002

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