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Press release: Landfill ban? The wrong path to a circular economy

November 9, 2015

In a policy document issued today, Zero Waste Europe warned against the use of landfill bans and advocated the use of more effective tools to reduce residual waste and promote a circular economy.

The paper believes that most waste-to-landfill areas have overcapacity in waste-to-energy plants, which hinders their further efforts in waste prevention, reuse or recycling.

According to Joan-Marc Simon, Executive Director of Zero Waste Europe, “Unless all'breaking the cycle' treatment options are considered, the consequences of banning or phasing out one will result in the transfer of waste to the other. This will cause unnecessary tension. The situation does not help move towards a circular economy."

This policy document analyzes how it has caused more waste to be diverted to incineration instead of recycling in all seven European countries that have implemented a landfill ban. This is the case in the Netherlands and Germany. Their waste incineration power generation has tripled and almost doubled, respectively, while the situation in Austria and Norway has even decreased. In Denmark, the landfill ban has promoted incineration and the amount of waste generated has increased by 37.5%.

Zero Waste Europe also believes that the landfill ban is a way to "bury" waste under other statistics without having to improve performance. In this regard, some European countries such as Germany or Sweden claim to have a zero-waste landfill policy, but they actually landfill waste materials from mechanical biological treatment plants and ashes from waste-to-energy plants. The paper also emphasized that the zero-waste landfill policy is "blind" in the reuse and reduction of waste, because countries can continue to operate linear economies, as long as the waste is burned or recycled, it will increase waste production.

Compare two different cases, Copenhagen's zero waste landfill policy and Treviso province's zero waste policy. The remaining garbage in Copenhagen is almost 6 times that of Treviso. There is no landfill ban, but a real zero-waste policy for various disposals.

In order to promote a circular economy with zero waste, Europe proposes to use the same high tax on landfills and waste energy incineration, and at the same time impose a lower tax on the landfill of stable waste. The utilization aspect is more effective. -Use and recycling, not landfill bans.

To download the policy document, click here.

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