[cleanairuk_news] European Environment Commissioner calls for incineration limits (via UKWin)

Network for Clean Air contact at cleanairuk.org
Fri Jan 25 15:40:26 GMT 2013


*European Environment Commissioner calls for incineration limits*

European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik has stated
that he would welcome medium-term bans on the incineration of re-usable,
recyclable  and compostable material across all EU member states.

European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik is reported
to have told Materials Recycling Week (MRW) that: “Most of them [EU member
states with less than 5% landfill] got there by using fiscal policy to
gradually raise the cost of landfilling; some of them went so far as to
ban landfills, and some are now considering bans on the incineration of
certain types of waste
I would welcome such bans in the medium term in all
member states, particularly for reusable, recyclable/compostable waste
streams. It certainly won’t happen overnight, but there should be no doubt
about the direction we need to take.”

Milestones of the  European Commission’s September 2011 Roadmap to a
Resource Efficient Europe include: “By 2020 EHS [Environmentally Harmful
Subsidies] will be phased out
.”;  ”By 2020 a major shift from taxation of
labour towards environmental taxation
”; and that “By 2020, waste is
managed as a resource. Waste generated per capita is in absolute decline.
Recycling and re-use of waste are economically attractive options for
public and private actors due to widespread separate collection and the
development of functional markets for secondary raw materials. More
materials, including materials having a significant impact on the
environment and critical raw materials, are recycled. Waste legislation is
fully implemented
 Energy recovery is limited to non recyclable materials,
landfilling is virtually eliminated and high quality recycling is

This was followed up in May 2012 with the European Parliament resolution
of 24 May 2012 on a resource-efficient Europe, including Action 33:
““Calls on the Commission to streamline the waste acquis, taking into
account the waste hierarchy and the need to bring residual waste close to
zero; calls on the Commission, therefore, to make proposals by 2014 with a
view to gradually introducing a general ban on waste landfill at European
level and for the phasing-out, by the end of this decade, of incineration
of recyclable and compostable waste; this should be accompanied by
appropriate transition measures including the further development of
common standards based on life-cycle thinking; calls on the Commission to
revise the 2020 recycling targets of the Waste Framework Directive; is of
the opinion that a landfill tax – as has already been introduced by some
Member States – could also help achieve the above ends.””

Achieving the milestones would mean that by 2020 there would be less waste
arisings, far less residual waste, and that incineration would be limited
to non-recyclable non-compostable material. It also points towards
increased recycling targets, an end to incinerator subsidies (as they are
environmentally harmful) and the introduction of incineration taxes (as
part of a move towards an increase in environmental taxes).

According to the European Commission’s European Resource Efficiency
Platform Recommendations for short-term priorities, under the theme of
“Specific incentives for reducing waste (targets, pricing, fiscal,
eliminating residual waste)” it was stated that: “It  should be
investigated whether it would be useful to extend landfill and
incineration taxes or bans (especially of recyclable and bio-degradable
waste)”. According to the document, “the identification – through Member
States’ reporting – and phasing out of environmentally harmful subsidies
were seen as a clear priority;”.

Indeed, “Abolishing environmentally harmful subsidies and tax-breaks that
waste public money on obsolete practices” is part of the 17 December 2012
Manifesto for a Resource-efficient Europe signed by Janez Potočnik
and others.

The 22 November 2012 ‘First recommendations to Sherpas’ from Working Group
III of the European Resource Efficiency Platform included “Member States
to introduce waste charging, taxes on landfilling and incineration of
waste, and encourage recycling and re-use, ensuring that all major groups
of users contribute adequately”.

Meanwhile the First Report of Working Group I stated that the Working
Group showed report for: “The introduction of landfill and incineration
taxes or bans (especially of recyclable and bio-degradable waste) that are
properly enforced”. The report also notes that views were expressed that:
“EU subsidies should be linked to resource efficiency criteria, without
creating a new level of conditionality that could hamper access for the
poorest regions. In particular, no more incinerators should be built with
EU funding, especially cohesion funds.”

“Concerning the application of market-based instruments aiming at creating
the economic conditions to support the waste hierarchy, the main
challenges are related to: 
In some MS [member states], presence of
harmful subsidies (e.g. to support incineration);

Appendix 6 of the November 2012 Impact Assessment to The Commission
proposal for a new general Union Environment Action Programme to 2020: 
identifies incineration subsidies as a barrier to the implementation of
the waste hierarchy: “Concerning the application of market-based
instruments aiming at creating the economic conditions to support the
waste hierarchy, the main challenges are related to: 
In some MS [member
states], presence of harmful subsidies (e.g. to support incineration);

As UKWIN reported in September 2012  Janez Potočnik has also stated
that: “
There are two major objectives we need to pursue. Obviously,
landfill rates must go down as quickly as possible, but it is also
important to switch from energy recovery to increased recycling. Plastic
recycling rates are far too low across Europe with an average of just 24
per cent. Today, even in countries with high recovery rates, there is
simply not enough plastic available for recycling because most of it goes
to energy recovery. A dominance of energy recovery over recycling is not
acceptable in the medium-term

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