ZWE report urges inclusion of incineration under EU Emission Trading System

Zero Waste Europe has published a report suggesting that the inclusion of incineration within the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) could increase levels of waste prevention and recycling across the continent.

The study, carried out by CE Delft, indicates that municipal waste incineration is, at present, excluded from the system, with its addition meaning that waste companies would be made to purchase emission credits for every tonne of carbon dioxide produced in the treatment of household, company, and industrial waste. ZWE states that this additional cost would act as an incentive for resource management businesses to boost their waste prevention and recycling rates.

The potential impact of the inclusion was observed within two scenarios – firstly in the situation where only fossil fuel emissions are considered, such as carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the burning of plastics; and, secondly, in the instance where both fossil fuel and biogenic emissions are considered, often stemming from the combustion of food waste, for example.

The main findings of the paper were as follows:

– Due to the direct price incentive of including incineration within the ETS, companies could see levels of waste reduction increase from eight per cent to 25 per cent, in comparison to the domestic increase amongst households from 0.2 per cent to five per cent.
– The inclusion of incineration under ETS could see carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 2.8 Mt per year in 2022 within the fossil fuel scenario; by 8.8 Mt per year in 2030 within the fossil fuel and biogenic scenario. The study attributes 90 per cent of this decrease to commercial and industrial waste reduction.