Waste to Energy : EU Parliament approves inclusion of municipal incinerators in ETS

Hand puts the wooden cubes with CO2 emission reduction icon. CO2 emission concept. Green industries business concept.
© MYZONEFOTO - stock.adobe.com

The European Parliament has approved the inclusion of municipal incinerators within the scope of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as of 2026. This decision entails pricing fossil CO2 emissions from municipal waste incinerators.

Non-profits such as Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) have applauded this decision since they believe that the inclusion of incinerators is of fundamental importance to allow the EU climate and circularity goals to be successfully met. But for them, the 2026 inclusion is too late. “The inclusion would ensure that recyclables are pulled out of the waste stream intended for incineration and recycled in line with the EU waste hierarchy by applying mixed-waste sorting systems,” said Janek Vähk, Climate, Energy and Air Pollution Programme Coordinator at ZWE.

Meanwhile Ella Stengler, Managing Director of CEWEP (Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants) says that CEWEP found that the position adopted by the Council is reasonable and comprehensive. "A conditional impact assessment (and not just an evaluation of the side effects, as the Parliament’s text proposed) is absolutely necessary before any legislative action is taken. It is the only tool that could establish if the inclusion of Waste-to-Energy in the ETS is the right solution for the EU waste management sector as a whole."

On the other hand, CEWEP did not understand why the European Parliament left a misleading statement in its final position to support waste incineration’s inclusion in the ETS. Amendment 422 states that “Since recycling and regeneration activities are already covered by the EU ETS, the inclusion of municipal waste incineration installations would reinforce incentives for sustainable management of waste in line with the waste hierarchy.” However, recycling facilities are not included in the EU ETS. Recycling is, as the whole waste sector, currently covered under the Effort Sharing Regulation," she added. "It was always CEWEP’s argumentation that the waste sector should be looked at in a holistic way. Putting just one waste management option – incineration – under the ETS would have huge impacts on the waste management system as a whole. This needs to be evaluated."