Local authority leaders call for clearer policy focus on EfW to help hit waste targets

Using energy-from-waste facilities to dispose of waste as a last resort would reduce the EU’s dependence on imported energy, according to the European Committee of the Regions (CoR).

In recommendations, published in the EU Official Journal last week, CoR says the EU’s circular economy policies also need a clearer focus on EfW to improve the chances of member states hitting waste targets, according to local authorities.

The European Commission plans to table a policy paper on exploiting the potential of waste-to-energy next year as part of its ‘energy union’ strategy. It will consider the role for energy recovery from waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill, according to an official.

CoR wants a greater say in EU waste targets that they will be required to implement at local level by processing and storing waste and managing waste flows. It is calling for a binding target for reducing waste generation in the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) to improve compliance with the waste hierarchy. It sees this as the “most efficient method” to cut the environmental and financial costs of waste management.

The WFD will be revised under new circular economy proposals the Commission will publish in the autumn. A proposal by the previous Commission was scrapped in February.

The overall goal of moving to a zero-waste circular economy will be “extremely hard to achieve in regions where waste management costs are high due to low population densities and long distances to treatment facilities”, the CoR said. New municipal waste recycling targets should be “realistic” and guided by an analysis of why certain member states and regional authorities have failed to meet the current targets. The findings of the impact assessment for the previous circular economy proposal were “optimistic” and the Commission should revisit the data, CoR concluded.

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This article is a result of a partnership between ENDS Waste&Bionergy and EBA.