Brussels — European Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella promised that the European Commission is to develop a plan to address how EfW can be optimized without compromising higher reuse and recycling rates. FEAD has now stated that the EU’s energy and waste policies need to be better aligned. In order to achieve this, the communication should assess the role of waste to energy within the waste hierarchy without putting into question this hierarchy. Moreover, the communication should help to better define the role of energy recovery from waste in the energy mix, while ensuring that any assessment made of different waste to energy forms is technology neutral.
According to FEAD, separate collection and recycling of waste must be supported where technically, environmentally and economically practicable. But the remaining materials (e.g. sorting residues) which cannot be fully reused or recycled should be treated in the most sustainable way, in line with the waste hierarchy. Waste to energy preserves the value of residual waste by turning it into fuels, electricity and/or heat, hence preventing resource losses, decreasing the need for fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, anaerobic digestion of bio-waste and biogas recovery from landfill also allow the production of biofuels. More than that, energy recovery or incineration may be the overall most sustainable option for some waste including some containing hazardous substances of which the risks cannot be adequately controlled when recycled. So waste to energy should take a „complementary role“ of in the circular economy.
But FEAD also stressed that communication should cover both municipal and commercial & industrial waste. The organisation welcomes the JRC background document on waste to energy that covers waste streams both from municipal and from commercial and industrial sources, and strongly calls upon the Commission to do the same in its communication. Similarly, the technical study to be carried out by the European Environmental Agency should include waste management capacities not only for municipal waste but also for C&I waste.
A truly circular economy – the FEAD statement runs – will not be created if only municipal waste is taken into account. Commercial and industrial waste should also be included in the scope of the Commission`s communication on waste to energy as it is a much larger source of resources. To achieve a circular economy, the EU needs to know more about flows of C&I waste so as to ensure that these can be efficiently re-injected into the European economy. As a first step, the Commission should require member states to put in place better data gathering on C&I waste.
The full statement can be downloaded under fead.be.
Source: European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services (FEAD)