CEWEP, ESWET & Seven Others Behind Joint Statement

Nine Trade Bodies Sign Statement on Role of Waste to Energy in EU Taxonomy

Nine trade associations across various sectors published a joint-statement to positively consider Waste to Energy in the EU Taxonomy.

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Nine trade associations across various sectors published a joint-statement to positively consider Waste to Energy in the EU Taxonomy.

The statement was co-signed by nine associations representing several important sectors at the EU level: CEWEP, Cogen Europe, Energy-Cities, ESWET, Energy Technologies Europe, Euroheat & Power, European Aluminium, FEAD and Municipal Waste Europe.

The statement underlines the contribution of waste to energy towards a sustainable Europe, thanks to its role in energy and material self-sufficiency, its complementarity with recycling and renewable energy, but also with other industries. 

The signatories said that they welcome the launch of the Platform on Sustainable Finance as Europe aims to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050. In this regard, the “EU Taxonomy” is a significant step to guide the green transition.

However, while respecting the EU waste hierarchy, the signatories of the statement believe is important for the Platform to consider more in-depth sectors dealing with waste management, heat and energy efficiency. They bring significant contributions to all of the environmental objectives listed in the taxonomy.

Waste to energy plants link key sectors of the economy – waste management, heating and electricity sectors and others – and are key enablers of systems integration making the bridge between building a more circular economy, an energy union and achieving climate change goals.

As already acknowledged by the Commission, the statement underlines that Waste-to-Energy has a role to play in the circular economy:

  • As a complementary tool to recycling, it safely treats residual waste.
  • It diverts residual waste from landfills, which prevents methane emissions.
  • It ensures the implementation of the EU landfilling target, with a minimised environmental impact.
  • It turns waste into energy for the community and industries.
  • It recovers valuable secondary raw materials, which completes proper separate collection and sorting in the prevention of further virgin material extraction.

Read the full statement below:
We, the signatories, welcome the launch of the Platform on Sustainable Finance as Europe aims to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050. In this regard, the “EU Taxonomy” (Regulation (EU) 2020/852) is a significant step to guide the green transition.

While respecting the EU waste hierarchy 1, we believe it is important for the Platform to consider more in-depth sectors dealing with waste management, heat and energy efficiency. They bring significant contributions to all of the environmental objectives listed in the taxonomy.

Every year, about 15 million citizens in Europe receive heat generated in Waste-to-Energy plants via district heating. The plants most often use high efficiency cogeneration, which makes them and their district heating networks highly efficient and recovering heat and cooling that would otherwise be wasted.

Cogeneration also enables them to provide electricity for 18 million citizens when variable renewable energy sources are not available. Doing so, Waste-to-Energy plants link key sectors of the economy – waste management, heating and electricity sectors and others – and are key enablers of systems integration making the bridge between building a more circular economy, an energy union and achieving climate change goals.

The Commission already underlined that Waste-to-Energy has a role to play in the circular economy - As a complementary tool to recycling 3, it safely treats the fraction of waste not suitable for recycling (the so-called residual waste) and takes pollutants out of the eco-cycle, thus being a sink for hazardous substances.

It is also among the sectors with the most stringent pollutant emissions requirements under EU rules;

- It diverts residual waste from landfills where the waste would be lost as a resource and its organic fraction would emit methane, a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 84 times more important than CO2 in a 20-year time frame 4;

- It ensures the implementation of the EU landfilling target of maximum 10% for municipal waste in 2035, as demonstrated in Member States with the most advanced recycling schemes. The combustion process is controlled with one of the most stringent EU regulations, guaranteeing therefore a minimised environmental impact.

- It turns waste into energy to produce heat, steam and electricity, which can substitute fossil fuels and meet citizens and businesses need for electricity when the wind does not blow and sun does not shine. The energy output from Waste-to-Energy plants is about 50% renewable, due to the organic portion of municipal residual waste;

- It recovers valuable secondary raw materials (e.g. metals and aggregates) clean and ready to be recycled in the economy, thus preventing carbon-intensive extraction and use of virgin materials. In line with the waste hierarchy, material recovery in Waste-to-Energy plants is complementary to prior separate collection and sorting 5.

Because of its role in energy and material self-sufficiency in Europe, its complementarity with recycling and renewable energy, but also with other industries, Waste-to-Energy is one of the sectors involved in the transition towards a sustainable Europe.

We thus invite the Platform on Sustainable Finance to positively consider Waste-to-Energy and to assess under what conditions it can be considered as taxonomy-eligible.