No bright future for waste-to-energy?

In a recent communication, the European Commission has clarified their view on the role of waste-to-energy in the circular economy and the Energy Union strategy.
Dieter Schütz,

The commission points out that incineration has to be seen in the context of the waste hierarchy and that different processes of incineration rank differently in the hierarchy due to different environmental impacts. Nevertheless, the public financing of waste management should be consistent with the goal of shifting upwards in the implementation of the EU waste hierarchy. „Investments in treatment facilities for residual waste, such as extra incineration capacity would only be granted in limitied and well justified cases, where there is no risk of overcapacity and the objectives of the waste hierarchy are fully respected“, the communication claims. „Member states are advised to gradually phase-out public support for the recovery of energy from mixed waste.“ With the idea of reducing waste in general and sending more waste to recycling, the commission warns to build overcapacities.

The Commission makes clear that the priority has to be on the top three parts of the hierarchy. So the member states are encouraged to focus on waste prevention, reuse and recycling. „The role of waste incineration – currently, the predominant waste-to-energy option – needs to be redefined to ensure that increases in recycling and reuse are not hampered and that overcapacities for residual waste treatment are averted.“


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