‘EU must not count burning waste as renewable power’

A group of environmental organisations and businesses say this can distort markets and damage the environment

By Jonny Bairstow

A group of environmental organisations and businesses involved in recycling, forestry and bioenergy have called on EU policymakers to prevent the burning of unrecyclable waste being counted as renewable energy.

Organisations including Zero Waste Europe, the European Environmental Bureau and Client Earth wrote a letter to Member States regarding the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), saying it wanted to see them “gradually phase-out support schemes for the incineration of mixed waste“.

They claim subsidies for incineration distort the recycling market and discourage the separate collection of organic material and other recyclables by making it cheaper to burn than reuse.

This conflicts with the view offered by waste-to-energy industries, which say incineration can play a role in recovering energy from waste that cannot be recycled.

The letter reads: “We strongly call on member states to agree on wording that aims at mitigating concerns over the possible effects of national support schemes for biomass use such as for electricity production, in the event that they would have significant distortive effects on raw material markets.”