Our children are growing up in an environment where they are educated about the importance of recycling. It is not so long ago that we all used to chuck everything in the bin without thinking about what happened to it. It went off to be buried in landfill, a legacy to be dealt with by future generations. The expansion of the recycling facility at Charlton Lane made a lot of sense. Electrical items, old bits of carpet, oil, white goods, batteries: It could all be recycled to help lessen the effect on the planet. The Reuse centre will take someone’s unwanted furniture and turn it into someone else’s treasure. SITA’s proposal of a visitor centre ‘to inspire and motivate children and adults to change the way they think about waste’ is sound. So far so green!

However, as we go to press it would appear that the arrival of a huge incinerator in Charlton Lane’s so called ‘Eco Park’ is a foregone conclusion. This is really shocking news and is diametrically opposed to the spirit of recycling. The incinerator will be burning 55,000 tons of Surrey’s residual waste, including plastics. Burning plastics forms a set of chemicals collectively known as dioxins, the most harmful known to us. The ash produced is clinker or bottom ash, and fine fly ash. There are pollutants in the bottom ash, which is put under roads and made into breezeblocks, which is sweeping the problem under the carpet for future generations, because the toxicity is still there. This will affect everyone, not just people local to the plant.

The whole process of incineration is madness, no matter how clever the technology, because it encourages the creation of waste to feed it. This ‘Fling and Forget’ culture removes our individual responsibility, and flies in the face of the increasing trend towards the 3R’s- Recycle, Reuse, Reduce. We each produce 88kg less waste per annum than 5 years ago, so it proves that education can work.

Be informed. There is an excellent description of what incinerators will do for our environment from Radio 4’s Costing the Earth programme, ‘Dash for Ash’. It will enlighten you and you need to know. www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01qm4ph