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European Commission keeps wasting energy on “waste-to-energy”

The European Commission continues to waste energy on "turning waste into treasure"


The European Commission continues to waste energy on "turning waste into treasure"

Ferran Rosa, Policy Officer

In December 2015, the European Commission launched a circular economy package aimed at achieving major changes in waste management, product and process design policies, and consumption patterns to minimize landfill and incineration. Less than two months later, on Thursday, February 4, the European Commission proposed a waste-to-energy communication roadmap, which stipulates the scope and terms of waste-to-energy communication, which will be released later in 2016. We read it through, and this roadmap is a worrying step in four areas.

First, the European Commission refers to non-recyclable waste as the perfect feed for incinerators in this roadmap. However, no definition of non-recyclable waste can be found in the Waste Framework Directive or the new proposal. The committee mixes non-recyclable garbage with mixed garbage. Although mixed garbage is not easy to recycle, they are two different things.

And mixed waste is a separate collection problem; non-recyclable waste is mainly a product design problem. If separated properly, there will be no non-recyclable waste, only non-recyclable materials. The solution to them is not to burn, but to redesign to adapt to the circular economy.

Secondly, this roadmap is particularly worrying because it ignores the role of civil society and local governments, because the purpose of the committee is to consult with the regulatory agencies of member states, operators of “waste-to-energy” plants, RDF producers, recycling industries, and Other waste incineration industries (mainly cement kilns). Although there is still much controversy about waste incineration from NGOs to local community associations and resident groups, the reasons include wide-ranging concerns from health and environmental issues to financial issues, but neither municipalities nor NGOs are included. The list.

In addition, it is worrying because it does not contain a clear road map on how to solve the existing overcapacity and actually promotes more inflexible facilities that require long-term investment, such as district heating. It ignores that in a circular economy, disposal facilities should be flexible, allowing waste managers to gradually adapt to higher recycling rates and lower waste generation levels. Linking the heating system of a house with the generation of residual waste through very expensive long-term facilities is not the best incentive to promote reduction, reuse and recycling

Finally, giving the so-called "waste-to-energy" a role within the energy alliance is tantamount to benefiting the climate, because "waste-to-energy" is one of the most polluting, costly and inefficient forms of energy production available today. Incineration of waste does not help to ensure energy supply, nor does it help to promote clean renewable energy to ensure the reduction of our carbon footprint and the mitigation of climate change

Unfortunately, this is not a systematic change, just more of the same.

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