Report: MRBT approaches for mixed waste treatment is cost-competitive

Material Recovery and Biological TreatmentA new report by Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) states Material Recovery and Biological Treatment (MRBT) systems are a cost-effective approach to treating (leftover) mixed waste.

The study, “Nothing left behind: modelling Material Recovery and Biological Treatment’s contribution to resource recovery and fighting climate change”, was completed by Equanimator.

It focuses on this technology which ZWE says combines the use of advanced sorting systems applied to mixed waste (to extract additional material for recycling) with biological treatment of the remaining residual waste aimed at stabilising the waste before its being landfilled.

The study modelled MRBT systems at two scales: 100 thousand tonnes (100kt) and 200 thousand tonnes (200kt). These were further modelled in lower-cost EU Member States and higher-cost EU Member States.

The study states that MRBT costs are lower than costs for incineration. According to the study, the costs for the MRBT facilities are in the range of €97-€123 per tonne for the 100kt system and €76-€96 per tonne for the 200kt system.

These systems must be considered by all EU countries to comply with their circular economy commitments.

The study also aimed to demonstrate the benefits of MRBT for extracting plastics for recycling from mixed waste when comparing the costs of extracting plastics from mixed waste with those paid under extended producer responsibility schemes (EPR).

Janek Vähk, ZWE’s Climate, Energy, and Air Pollution Programme Coordinator, commented: “We have a climate crisis and EU funds should be used to implement MRBT across Europe.

“These systems must be considered by all EU countries to comply with their circular economy commitments.

“This report shows that MRBT works, it’s cost-effective, and it brings us closer to our zero emissions target – it’s effectively a proof of concept, so let’s make sure we use it everywhere to address the climate emergency.”

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