Letter: Burn or recycle

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The Independent Online
Letter: Burn or recycle

Sir: Reading the article (6 December) which asked "Should you recycle this paper?" I was pleased to see reference to our research comparing the environmental credentials of recycling and other types of waste management. I was surprised though to see that I apparently recommend that people burn waste paper in their fireplaces.

This is not the case, and from an environmental viewpoint it would be quite damaging (and probably illegal in most UK cities). Our research investigated the burning of waste paper in modern "energy from waste" plants, which have extensive environmental controls and recover the energy content of the paper very efficiently. Domestic fireplaces are smoky and inefficient - however nice they are to sit by.

Our research showed that recycling is much better for the environment than landfilling, but that recovering energy from the waste might be better still. However, modern energy from waste plants are at present few and far between. So don't stop recycling now, but as a society we need to think long and hard about waste strategies for the future.

Dr MATTHEW LEACH

Imperial College

London SW7

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