Commenting on the European Commission’s announcement that it will further assess the interface between energy and waste (EfW) policy in its upcoming Communication on Waste to Energy, FEAD has said it should assess the role of EfW within the waste hierarchy without putting it into question.
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.
“The achievement of a true circular economy will need to cover a full circle starting with eco-design thereby ensuring that the amount of waste which cannot be recycled is reduced to a minimum”
The communication from the Commission is expected to stress the important role that EfW will need to play for those waste types that are either recycling residues or are non-recyclable for technical, environmental or economic reasons, FEAD says.
It has called for setting the right incentives at EU level, saying economic instruments aiming at promoting electricity and/or heat from waste have to be well designed in order to avoid inefficient results (market failures).
It says, in particular, the recognition of biodegradable waste as a source of renewable energy in the Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC has been very important for our sector. A significant percentage of the energy production of EfW plants comes from the biodegradable fraction of municipal waste, for which operators can claim incentives. FEAD calls on the commission to maintain this recognition when the Renewable Energy Directive is revised.
It also says communication should cover both municipal & commercial and industrial waste, and the assessment of different forms of energy recovery with a view to making EfWprocesses more energy efficient.
FEAD says, “FEAD would like to point out that the assessment of waste to energy technologies should be technology neutral, that all forms of energy recovery should be given equal opportunities (in line with their potential to increase energy efficiency) but should also need to fulfil the same requirements (eg, apply the same emission levels and Best Available Techniques for the same types of waste). Furthermore, investment in waste to energy should respect the waste hierarchy.
“In a circular economy, the ultimate goal should be a step by step reduction of residual waste. However, as long as there continues to be residual waste, energy recovery will play an important role, also supported by an element of sustainable landfill. The achievement of a true circular economy will need to cover a full circle starting with eco-design thereby ensuring that the amount of waste which cannot be recycled is reduced to a minimum.
“Finally, supply side measures alone such as recycling or landfill diversion targets will not deliver a more circular economy. Regulatory changes and economic instruments are also needed on the demand side to create more sustainable and resilient markets for secondary raw materials. This includes financially rewarding the benefits.”