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Politics

Climate will not benefit from EU ETS being bxtended to waste incineration

However, we would also like to point out certain specificities that have to be considered when discussing the waste sector’s contribution to these goals.

The incineration of municipal and hazardous waste is exempted from the current EU Emission Trading System (ETS), for good reasons, CEWEP stated in the context of the roadmap for the revision of the EU ETS. Waste-to-Energy (WtE) plants are part of an integrated waste management system whereas ETS is a market mechanism. It should not be applied to the waste sector, which aims to reduce as much as possible the impact of waste to the environment. Applying measures such as the EU ETS exclusively to WtE (and not to the entire waste sector) would be counter-productive, as the market would encourage diversion of some waste streams to cheaper, less environmentally sound routes.

“WtE incineration, like all the other industries, must and does contribute to the greenhouse gas mitigation. However, extending the EU ETS to waste incineration would not provide an actual decrease in GHG emissions from WtE plants. It would be applied too far from the source of CO2 – plastic products and packaging that reach us as unrecyclable waste, and therefore it would not have the desired steering effect.”, said CEWEP’s President Paul De Bruycker.

Differently from other industries, WtE operators do not have a choice on the characteristics or carbon footprint of the input to their plants – waste that cannot be recycled. Adding supplementary carbon-related costs to the taxes already imposed on WtE in numerous EU member states would make waste treatment more expensive for municipalities and therefore citizens. While at the same time this measure would not bring about any additional GHG steering effect. It would also increase the price of recycling as WtE plants treat the residues from sorting and recycling plants.

Making WtE more expensive could be even counterproductive for the climate considering that numerous EU member states still heavily rely on (cheaper) landfills and might be inclined to continue putting their waste on landfills despite their heavy climate impact.

For the non-recyclable plastic waste (the source of the fossil CO2) treated in European WtE plants the only alternatives to WtE are landfilling, export to other countries, often with lower environmental and social standards than in Europe or treatment in industrial plants that do not have to fulfill the same environmental requirements. On the other hand, in WtE plants the pollutants embedded in this waste are safely and permanently destroyed. The important hygienic task that WtE fulfils for society was also demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic when contagious waste from hospitals, medical facilities and households were safely treated with high temperatures in waste incineration plants across Europe.

European WtE plants offset the GHG emissions through landfill diversion, replacement of fossil fuels in energy production and material recovery from bottom ash. Additionally, they are exploring carbon capture and use/storage technologies where appropriate.

Leading players seek overhaul of e-waste policy approach

The WEEE Forum, a prominent representative of Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) throughout the world, has developed a new vision which calls for an overhaul of the current system of extended producer responsibility, including targets, which it claims is not fit for purpose.

Based on recent research undertaken by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and against the background of very few EU Member States being able to meet the 2019 collection targets for WEEE despite enormous progress being made in tackling the increasing amount of e-waste generated, the WEEE Forum lays out four vital steps that need to be taken to ensure the system is fair and achievable.

The first is what is termed as the “All Actors Approach” and is a policy model whereby all private and public entities that have access to WEEE and therefore are involved in the collection, logistics, preparation for reuse, refurbishment, treatment, or recycling of WEEE, or in the associated monitoring, legislative and enforcement activities, are subject to minimum legal obligations regarding, amongst other things, compliance with legislation, reporting to the competent authorities and, meeting official standards and communication. The All Actors Approach means all actors have legal obligations which competent authorities must enforce to ensure that all actors contribute in line with their requirements. This approach will result in more fairness and inclusivity in the market as well as enhanced monitoring based on sustained cooperation.

Secondly, that PROs are required only to collect the WEEE to which they have access, i.e. deposited at collection facilities, or handed over to them, and should not be responsible for that which is out of their reach, for example treated as metal scrap. For that WEEE they have access to they will collect 100% of it. The approach proposed also recommends a role for PROs focused on the means and not just the ends. PROs would also play a relevant role in supporting actions that will turn unreported WEEE flows into officially reported and properly treated WEEE.

The third step suggested is to introduce several measures that authorities should implement to support the collection of WEEE. These include setting up a coordination body, improving the collection network and the better monitoring of WEEE flows.

Finally, there is a call for revision of the calculation method for setting the targets for the quantity of WEEE to be collected in each Member State. This is based either on the amount of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market or on the amount of WEEE generated previously.

Commenting on this last step, Jan Vlak, President of the WEEE Forum, noted that, “An All Actors Approach and supporting measures will certainly increase collection rates but are not a guarantee for reaching the targets. Unexpectedly, the research noted that the method used to calculate the current collection targets is not fit for purpose and results in targets that are inadequate and defeat their intention. This should be addressed as a priority.”

He continued, “The main shortcomings of the WEEE Generated target methodology are the fluctuations in the tonnages for collection due to economic cycles, inaccuracies of ‘placed on market’ and lifespans. Furthermore, the high collection targets under the ‘placed on market’ approach conflict with the current waste hierarchy that promotes waste prevention and the extension of the life of appliances.”

Download the WEEE Forum paper

Download the the UNITAR report

Making the use of by-products mandatory in the EU

Examples are the Green Deal of December 2019 and the Circular Economy Action Plan of March 2020. An important instrument for this is the European Waste Framework Directive, which defines, among other things, the importance of by-products such as iron and steel slag that contribute to waste prevention. However, in order to be able to implement environmental policy projects successfully, European public procurement law must be amended to include binding requirements for public procurement geared to the circular economy. The aim is to achieve a comprehensive authorisation of secondary building materials and their conditional prioritisation in public procurement tenders. This is the conclusion of an expert legal opinion by the law firm Kopp-Assenmacher & Nusser, which was commissioned by the FEhS Institute for Building Materials Research and EUROSLAG, the European Association of Manufacturers of Iron and Steel Slag.

Kopp-Assenmacher & Nusser’s environmental law experts based in Berlin and Düsseldorf propose four amendments to the European Public Procurement Directive. A new third paragraph in Article 18 should enshrine the fundamental importance of environmental criteria in the award of public contracts. Furthermore, it is requested that “aspects of environmental protection, the circular economy and resource conservation” be made mandatory in the specification of services in a new Article 42a. This also includes low-waste production, for example of by-products. Article 67, which regulates the award criteria, must also be extended accordingly: the new paragraph 2a provides for these same environmental criteria to be taken into account when assessing the price-performance ratio. If procurement authorities do not allow products, objects and substances under Article 42a, this would have to be justified under a new paragraph of Article 84 using award notices.

Thomas Reiche, Chairman at EUROSLAG and Managing Director of the FEhS Institute: “What we criticised at national level when the Circular Economy Act was amended, is also missing at crucial points in European public procurement law: specific, legally certain formulations which oblige public sector purchasers to comprehensively authorise and conditionally prioritise by- products or secondary raw materials. Only these optimisations of the legal framework mentioned in the report guarantee that public procurement in Europe is aligned with the environmental policy guidelines: promotion of the circular economy and conservation of resources. We hope that appropriate steps to amend the public procurement law will be taken under the German EU Council Presidency”.

The building materials and fertilisers from the steel industry have already been making an important contribution to the conservation of natural resources for many decades. In Germany alone, the use of iron and steel slag has prevented the mining of over a billion tonnes of natural rock.

Making the use of by-products mandatory in the EU

Examples are the Green Deal of December 2019 and the Circular Economy Action Plan of March 2020. An important instrument for this is the European Waste Framework Directive, which defines, among other things, the importance of by-products such as iron and steel slag that contribute to waste prevention. However, in order to be able to implement environmental policy projects successfully, European public procurement law must be amended to include binding requirements for public procurement geared to the circular economy. The aim is to achieve a comprehensive authorisation of secondary building materials and their conditional prioritisation in public procurement tenders. This is the conclusion of an expert legal opinion by the law firm Kopp-Assenmacher & Nusser, which was commissioned by the FEhS Institute for Building Materials Research and EUROSLAG, the European Association of Manufacturers of Iron and Steel Slag.

Kopp-Assenmacher & Nusser’s environmental law experts based in Berlin and Düsseldorf propose four amendments to the European Public Procurement Directive. A new third paragraph in Article 18 should enshrine the fundamental importance of environmental criteria in the award of public contracts. Furthermore, it is requested that “aspects of environmental protection, the circular economy and resource conservation” be made mandatory in the specification of services in a new Article 42a. This also includes low-waste production, for example of by-products. Article 67, which regulates the award criteria, must also be extended accordingly: the new paragraph 2a provides for these same environmental criteria to be taken into account when assessing the price-performance ratio. If procurement authorities do not allow products, objects and substances under Article 42a, this would have to be justified under a new paragraph of Article 84 using award notices.

Thomas Reiche, Chairman at EUROSLAG and Managing Director of the FEhS Institute: “What we criticised at national level when the Circular Economy Act was amended, is also missing at crucial points in European public procurement law: specific, legally certain formulations which oblige public sector purchasers to comprehensively authorise and conditionally prioritise by- products or secondary raw materials. Only these optimisations of the legal framework mentioned in the report guarantee that public procurement in Europe is aligned with the environmental policy guidelines: promotion of the circular economy and conservation of resources. We hope that appropriate steps to amend the public procurement law will be taken under the German EU Council Presidency”.

The building materials and fertilisers from the steel industry have already been making an important contribution to the conservation of natural resources for many decades. In Germany alone, the use of iron and steel slag has prevented the mining of over a billion tonnes of natural rock.

Can Waste-to-Energy become carbon negative?

With previsions of a global waste generation almost doubling by 2050, the application of carbon capture technologies in Waste-to-Energy is a great opportunity to move away from landfills and limit global warming. The development of CCS in Waste-to-Energy plants can turn waste into a negative emitter.

To discuss the topic, ESWET has invited three high-level speakers from EU institutions, industry, and research: Jannicke Bjerkas, Director CCS of Fortum Oslo Varme, whose CCS project at the Klemestrud Waste-to-Energy facility is one of the most advanced in Europe. David Kearns, Senior Consultant at the Global CCS Institute, who signed in 2019 the report “Waste-to-Energy with CCS: A pathway to carbon-negative power generation” and Maria Velkova, Policy Officer in DG Climate Action at the European Commission, active in the Innovation Fund Programme and the development of the EU policy on carbon capture, utilisation, and storage.

The conversation will focus on whether and how non-recyclable waste can deliver negative emissions, and which policies are needed for Europe to lead this process.

At the end of the discussion, moderated by Patrick Clerens, ESWET Secretary-General, the participants will have time for an extensive Q&A session with the speakers.

The online event will take place on Friday 27 November from 10:00 to 11:30 CET.

Free registration

Can Waste-to-Energy become carbon negative?

With previsions of a global waste generation almost doubling by 2050, the application of carbon capture technologies in Waste-to-Energy is a great opportunity to move away from landfills and limit global warming. The development of CCS in Waste-to-Energy plants can turn waste into a negative emitter.

To discuss the topic, ESWET has invited three high-level speakers from EU institutions, industry, and research: Jannicke Bjerkas, Director CCS of Fortum Oslo Varme, whose CCS project at the Klemestrud Waste-to-Energy facility is one of the most advanced in Europe. David Kearns, Senior Consultant at the Global CCS Institute, who signed in 2019 the report “Waste-to-Energy with CCS: A pathway to carbon-negative power generation” and Maria Velkova, Policy Officer in DG Climate Action at the European Commission, active in the Innovation Fund Programme and the development of the EU policy on carbon capture, utilisation, and storage.

The conversation will focus on whether and how non-recyclable waste can deliver negative emissions, and which policies are needed for Europe to lead this process.

At the end of the discussion, moderated by Patrick Clerens, ESWET Secretary-General, the participants will have time for an extensive Q&A session with the speakers.

The online event will take place on Friday 27 November from 10:00 to 11:30 CET.

Free registration

Climate finance for developing countries rose to USD 78.9 billion in 2018

The increase was driven by a rise in public climate finance, while private climate finance was flat, according to new figures from the OECD.

Climate Finance Provided and Mobilised by Developed Countries in 2013-18 is the OECD’s third assessment of progress towards the UNFCCC goal of mobilising USD 100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries tackle and adapt to climate change. This latest report deepens the analysis of aggregate figures by providing more insights on the characteristics and recipients of climate finance over the period studied.

The report finds that public climate finance from developed countries reached USD 62.2 billion in 2018. Bilateral public climate finance accounted for USD 32.7 billion, up by 21% on 2017, and multilateral public climate finance attributed to developed countries accounted for USD 29.6 billion, up by 8% on 2017. The level of private climate finance mobilised was virtually flat, at USD 14.6 billion in 2018, after USD 14.5 billion in 2017. Climate-related export credits remained small at USD 2.1 billion, accounting for less than 3% of total climate finance.

“Climate finance to developing countries continues to grow but in 2018 was still USD 20 billion short of the 2020 goal of mobilising USD 100 billion. Early 2019 data from the European Union and its member states, the largest provider taken collectively, indicate that bilateral public climate finance may have continued to increase last year,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Donors need to urgently step up their efforts to support developing countries to respond to the immediate effects of the pandemic and to integrate climate actions into each country’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis to drive sustainable, resilient and inclusive economic growth.”

The report shows that out of the overall climate finance in 2018, 70% went to climate change mitigation activities, 21% went to adaptation and the remainder to crosscutting activities. More than half of total climate finance targeted economic infrastructure – mostly energy and transport – with most of the remainder going to agriculture and social infrastructure, notably water and sanitation.

Over 2016-18, Asia benefited from the largest share of climate finance at 43%, followed by Africa (25%) and the Americas (17%). In terms of distribution by income group, 69% of climate finance went to middle-income countries, 8% went to low-income countries and 2% went to high-income countries, with the remaining 21% allocated at regional rather than country level.

In terms of public finance instruments, both loans and grants increased in absolute terms. The share of loans, however continued to rise, reaching 74% of the USD 62.2 billion public finance figure in 2018, up from 52% in 2013, while the share of grants decreased from 27% to 20%. The share of grants was higher to low-income countries, at 42%, while the share of loans was higher in middle-income countries, at 88%.

Download a Summary of key findings: Climate Finance in 2013-18

Climate finance for developing countries rose to USD 78.9 billion in 2018

The increase was driven by a rise in public climate finance, while private climate finance was flat, according to new figures from the OECD.

Climate Finance Provided and Mobilised by Developed Countries in 2013-18 is the OECD’s third assessment of progress towards the UNFCCC goal of mobilising USD 100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries tackle and adapt to climate change. This latest report deepens the analysis of aggregate figures by providing more insights on the characteristics and recipients of climate finance over the period studied.

The report finds that public climate finance from developed countries reached USD 62.2 billion in 2018. Bilateral public climate finance accounted for USD 32.7 billion, up by 21% on 2017, and multilateral public climate finance attributed to developed countries accounted for USD 29.6 billion, up by 8% on 2017. The level of private climate finance mobilised was virtually flat, at USD 14.6 billion in 2018, after USD 14.5 billion in 2017. Climate-related export credits remained small at USD 2.1 billion, accounting for less than 3% of total climate finance.

“Climate finance to developing countries continues to grow but in 2018 was still USD 20 billion short of the 2020 goal of mobilising USD 100 billion. Early 2019 data from the European Union and its member states, the largest provider taken collectively, indicate that bilateral public climate finance may have continued to increase last year,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Donors need to urgently step up their efforts to support developing countries to respond to the immediate effects of the pandemic and to integrate climate actions into each country’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis to drive sustainable, resilient and inclusive economic growth.”

The report shows that out of the overall climate finance in 2018, 70% went to climate change mitigation activities, 21% went to adaptation and the remainder to crosscutting activities. More than half of total climate finance targeted economic infrastructure – mostly energy and transport – with most of the remainder going to agriculture and social infrastructure, notably water and sanitation.

Over 2016-18, Asia benefited from the largest share of climate finance at 43%, followed by Africa (25%) and the Americas (17%). In terms of distribution by income group, 69% of climate finance went to middle-income countries, 8% went to low-income countries and 2% went to high-income countries, with the remaining 21% allocated at regional rather than country level.

In terms of public finance instruments, both loans and grants increased in absolute terms. The share of loans, however continued to rise, reaching 74% of the USD 62.2 billion public finance figure in 2018, up from 52% in 2013, while the share of grants decreased from 27% to 20%. The share of grants was higher to low-income countries, at 42%, while the share of loans was higher in middle-income countries, at 88%.

Download a Summary of key findings: Climate Finance in 2013-18

Bioplastics successfully meets all EU safety standards

Thereby a health risk for consumers is excluded. Plastics intended to be certified as biodegradable or compostable must undergo additional tests. “Products made of bioplastics thus pass even more tests than conventional plastic products,” explains Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of European Bioplastics (EUBP).

In the EU, plastic products with food contact have to comply with strict regulations. These have to be met by bio-based as well as by conventional plastics. The relevant Commission Regulation, (EU) No. 10/2011, contains requirements for migration tests. A migration limit value indicates the maximum permitted quantity of an ingredient to transit into food. The limit value ensures that food contact material does not pose a health risk to consumers. In addition to the migration test, the composition of multi-component materials is checked. Only those substances and materials that have been assessed and listed in an EU overview as safe may be used in their manufacture.

Biodegradable plastics certified for industrial composting according to EU standard EN 13432 have to meet a fixed limit for heavy metals and other toxic and hazardous substances. Also, an ecotoxicity test is carried out in accordance with the OECD[1] rules. This test examines possible effects of industrial compost on plant growth and its toxicological harmlessness to microorganisms. Agricultural mulch films certified as biodegradable in soil according to EU standard EN 17033 must comply with strict SVHC[2] guidelines. This ensures that the films do not contain substances of very high concern. In addition to a further test for nitrification inhibition, EN 17033 certification also includes a procedure to exclude negative effects on soil organisms such as earthworms. A standard for the home composting of carrier bags (prEN 17427) expected to be published soon by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) will summarize all test procedures once again. “Products made of bioplastics thus undergo even more test procedures than conventional plastic products,” summarizes von Pogrell.

“The claim that products made from bio-based plastics contain harmful chemicals is untenable because of the numerous tests that are required”, criticizes von Pogrell. The EUBP executive director refers to the findings of a study recently published by a research group from the University of Frankfurt. The methodology of the study, in which bioplastics products were subjected to migration testing, is highly questionable as it differs significantly from the methodology of EU testing procedures. “Besides, the test result of the Frankfurt study does not represent a specific characteristic of bioplastics. On the contrary, the different methodology leads to the same result when testing conventional plastic products,” explains von Pogrell.

ZWE: Keep Waste-To-Energy out of the the EU Taxonomy Regulation

Gabi Schoenemann, pixelio.de

The main takeaways of the Statement include:

The defence of the exclusion of Waste-To-Energy (WTE) incineration from the EU Taxonomy Regulation and its financial scope, as it harms the key environmental objective of ensuring the transition to a circular economy, waste prevention and recycling, and in line with the actions taken by other EU institutions and policies.

The recommendation that the exclusion of WTE incineration is replicated in subsequent legislation, in line with a core vision that all materials are preserved in the circular economy loop contributing to the goal of building a carbon neutral EU by 2050.

Janek Vähk, Climate, Energy and Air Pollution Coordinator at Zero Waste Europe, said: “Evidence across the board shows that WTE incineration is a high carbon-intense source of energy, a source of air pollution, and an unsafe technology. It puts countries and cities in a ‘lock in’ situation without a chance to improve waste prevention and recycling. Even if someone liked burning waste, it could not be considered green or sustainable.”

Mariel Vilella, Director of Global Strategy at Zero Waste Europe, added: “The pressure from the Waste-To-Energy industry to use green finance in Europe and also in countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam in Southeast Asia, to build waste disposal infrastructure is acute and highly problematic, posing a threat to undermine the truly sustainable local opportunities for circular economy and locking these countries in a linear economy for decades.”

The full statement can be found on the Zero Waste Europe website.