Incineration of waste puts resource efficiency aims at risk

Brussels, 21 January – A new study by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) reveals that incinerators already operating in some EU states have the capacity to burn more than the non-recyclable waste generated, yet industry is pushing to further expand incineration capacity in European states.

Brussels, 21 January – A new study by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) reveals that incinerators already operating in some EU states have the capacity to burn more than the non-recyclable waste generated, yet industry is pushing to further expand incineration capacity in European states.

The study finds that:

  • Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom already have more incineration capacity than waste to burn;
  • Shipments of waste for burning has increased across national borders, which contradicts the proximity principle – that waste should be treated close to the point at which is generated, as set in the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) – and causes unnecessary CO2 emissions;
  • Despite already burning 22% of EU waste, the industry plans to increase European incineration capacity, undermining the objectives set out in the WFD and the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe, which advocate the prioritisation of waste prevention, re-use and recycling;
  • The increase in waste shipments may endanger accomplishment of recycling targets, particularly in those countries that are currently further away from achieving them.

“If the European Commission is to maintain its commitment to limit incineration to non-recyclables by 2020, the strategy should be to close incinerators and not to build new ones. The objectives of the Resource Efficiency Roadmap and recycling targets won’t be achieved unless the European Commission tightly controls the European incineration capacity. ” said Joan-Marc Simon, co-ordinator of GAIA in Europe.

“If incineration overcapacity continues or is extended it will either be at the expense of taxpayers – because it will increase waste fees to compensate for the unused installed capacity – or it will hijack waste prevention and recycling – because there will not be enough waste to burn.”

For more information, see the GAIA website or click to read the study, Incineration overcapacity and waste shipping in Europe.

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