It’s high time we tackle methane emissions from waste

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Photo: Pasi Mäenpää / pixabay.com

With the new report on methane emissions, the European Parliament supports bold actions to minimise the damages methane causes to the environment. The waste sector cannot be left out of the process.

ESWET – the European Suppliers of Waste-to-Energy technology welcomes the European Parliament ENVI Committee’s report underlining the need for bold action against methane emissions in the waste sector. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG): 84-times-more-potent than CO2 over a 20-year period. However, unlike CO2 and other GHGs, methane emissions – which represent 11% of the total GHG emissions in the EU – are not regulated properly in the European Union. Today’s report makes clear that that this will change.

In the last months, international organisations have raised alarms about the impact of methane on the environment; the recent IPCC report *1) released in July 2021 warned that robust, rapid and sustained reductions in methane emissions are needed to keep global warming in check.

Earlier in 2021, the UNEP Global Methane Assessment *2) identified the waste sector as having the most significant mitigation potential for reducing methane emissions in Europe. This means that addressing landfills is key.

As a last-resort option in the waste hierarchy, landfills are the most polluting way to manage waste, both in terms of GHG emissions and other risk of pollution to air, soil and groundwater. However, landfills remain the primary waste management option in several EU member states. In 2019, more than 20% of municipal solid waste was still landfilled in Europe.

“Today, the parliamentary report demonstrated that the European Parliament is taking the methane issue seriously. – said Patrick Clerens, ESWET’s Secretary-General – Acknowledging Waste-to-Energy’s role in diverting non-recyclable waste from landfills and reducing methane emissions in the waste sector, while recovering energy and recycling metals and other aggregates, would be a further step in the right direction”.

By 2035, no more than 10% of municipal waste should go to landfills in the EU. To achieve this challenging European target, clear support is needed for an integrated waste management system. It involves priority investments in waste prevention, reuse, recycling, but also in energy recovery and material recycling from residual waste, which is essential in the safe treatment of the waste that cannot be recycled as is.

1) https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/
2) UNEP, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Global Methane Assessment, 2021: https://www.unep.org/resources/report/global-methane-assessment-benefits-and-costs-mitigating-methane-emissions

Source: ESWET

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