EfW Subsidies “Distort” Waste Market, EU Policymakers Told

A group of European environmental NGOs have written a letter to EU policymakers, calling for the burning of unrecyclable waste to cease being counted as renewable energy.

Organisations including Zero Waste Europe, the European Environmental Bureau and Client Earth wrote a letter to EU Parliament regarding the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII).

It claims subsidies for energy from waste (EfW) “distort” waste markets and discourage the separate collection of organic material and other recyclables by making it cheaper to burn than find what could be considered “more sustainable” disposal methods.

The group says it wants to see the EU “gradually phase-out support schemes for the incineration of mixed waste”.

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.” 

The Letter In Full

Dear REDII Negotiators,

The undersigned organisations represent the paper, furniture, bio-based chemical and panel industries, plastic and compost recyclers and the leading European NGO’s on environment, climate, forestry, transport and waste.

We would like to express our support for a swift and satisfactory conclusion of negotiations on the following two issues:

  1. 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. The Council Presidency should adopt direct reference to “…avoid significant distortive effects on the raw material markets” and “Member States should take into account available sustainable supply of biomass” in order to be aligned with the European Parliament’s mandate. This would lead to an acceptable compromise by introducing a principle that addresses our concerns, which does not place any obligations on operators and would at the same time be in conformity with the already existing state aid rules.
  2. Equally important for us is the Presidency’s move to consider including a reference on the exclusion of subsidies for energy from mixed waste, along the lines of the European Parliament AM 126. This is important for our coalition as the support schemes for mixed waste have distorted waste markets and thus discourage the separate collection of organics and other recyclables that do not receive subsidies. AM 126 is in line with the recommendations of the Commission’s communication on waste to energy to focus on energy from separately collected biowaste while gradually phasing out support schemes for the incineration of mixed waste.

The undersigned organisations trust that the Council find s a position, in line with the European Parliament’s mandate on these issues, that will lead to a successful conclusion of negotiations.  

Yours sincerely,

  • European Oleochemical Industry (APAG – CEFIC )
  • Birdlife Europe Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI)
  • Client Earth European Compost Network (ECN)
  • European Envir onmental Bureau (EEB)
  • European Furniture Industries Federation (EFIC)
  • European Wood – Based Panels Federation (EPF)
  • European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF)
  • FederlegnoArredo (FLA)
  • FERN Hydr ocarbon Resins, Rosin Resins and Pine Chemicals Producers Association (HARRPA – CEFIC)
  • Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE)
  • Recycling Netwerk Benelux (RNB)
  • Transport & Environment (T&E)
  • Zero Waste Europe (ZWE)

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  1. Anything that can be incinerated can be cleanly gasified using PARS emission technology, allowing it to be deployed in a distributed, community-size fashion to prevent unnecessary waste transportation.

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