The Confederation of European Waste to Energy Plants (CEWEP) has released a statement this week stressing that investment in new or expanded WtE capacity should only take place in ‘well justified cases, in full respect of the waste hierarchy’.
Image: Waste to energy plant in Krakow, Poland
The statement explains how the notion of 'lock-in' effect has been presented as a concern over the years when discussing WtE for residual waste treatment - the idea that when an EfW facility is built, the surrounding regions will be inclined to recycle less and bring more waste to the EfW plant. CEWEP reiterated in its statement that responsible capacity planning should be undertaken by the sector to ensure that no such effect is created.
“There is currently no overcapacity of WtE on the European level,” the statement from CEWEP reads. “Nevertheless, on the local level there is sometimes more WtE capacity available than domestically needed. This is due to historical decisions based on forecasts for increased waste generation and the fact that WtE is an important tool for landfill diversion and sustainable local energy production, roles that remain important today.”
CEWEP describes EU waste laws setting ambitious targets for source separation and recycling as a ‘game-changer’ for waste treatment capacity planning. It goes on to add that public and private investors have the right tools to make safe and sustainable investments as EU legislation provides ‘solid information and predictability’ of what is and will be available as feedstock.
Efforts for waste prevention, source separation and recycling as well as landfill diversion as set in the EU targets must be considered appropriately in national and regional waste management plans, the CEWEP said - however, it stresses the importance of taking the whole feedstock into account when judging WtE capacity needs within the circular economy.
“Furthermore, growing emphasis on quality recycling means more rejects from recycling and sorting facilities,” CEWEP continued. “All these un-recyclable waste streams need secure, reliable and affordable treatment to avoid pollution spreading - a sanitary task that WtE fulfils. The only alternatives for these waste streams would be landfilling, the last resort.”
Dr Ella Stengler, MD CEWEP, will deliver the keynote address: an analysis of EU environment policy and its implications for waste to energy on day two of Energy from Waste Conference 2021. Book your place here.