EEB: Burning questions about the new EU waste incineration standards
The EU recently published a new set of environmental standards for waste incineration, raising the bar for one of Europe’s most controversial industries. But emissions from burning waste are still putting our health, the environment and the climate at risk.
More than 80 million tonnes of household waste is burnt in Europe every year, including materials that could be reused, recycled or composted. This comes at a high cost in terms of public health, environmental contamination and climate impact. As reported by the environmental network Zero Waste Europe, even the most advanced incineration technologies cannot prevent the release of vast amounts of pollutants that contaminate the air, soil and water, and end up entering our food chain. At the same time, the incineration industry is among the worst emitters of CO2 per megawatt-hour.
Christian Schaible, Policy Manager for Industrial Production at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), welcomed the new EU standards as a step forward while emphasising that “there is no place for waste incineration in a circular economy”.
“Ultimately, Europe must prevent waste and stop burning precious resources. To embrace the zero pollution strategy, we need to replace waste incineration with clean heating alternatives. Yet as long as incineration plants are still operating, Europeans expect and deserve the very best protection,” he said.
The publication of the new EU standards triggered a four-year deadline for operators across Europe to comply with the revised requirements. New installations which receive a permit after the publication of the standards must comply immediately with the new requirements.
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