Since 2010, many Europeans have shifted from burying waste to burning it, and now this energy from waste (EfW) infrastructure is drifting Europeans away from focusing on EU recycling targets.
This infrastructure won’t have much effect on Europe if the country’s recycling levels don’t change, but since it will most likely increase, Europe could be setting itself up for an overcapacity for residual waste treatment by 2030.
EurActiv.com has more information:
When they finally disappear from Europe’s landscapes, few will mourn the loss of landfill sites. Although that time is not yet upon us, a major shift has begun in the way Europe deals with its residual (i.e. non-recycled) waste over the last five years. Thanks to fixed EU Landfill Directive targets and determined policy efforts in many member states, the majority of our waste is now burned rather than buried, and the energy produced through incineration is harnessed and sold.
In response, the waste market too has changed. Where landfill was largely a national concern, the energy from waste (EfW) market is truly European in nature, as residual waste is increasingly traded internationally as ‘refuse derived fuel’ (RDF).
At first glance, this is good news. If our aim is sustainable consumption, our first priority in waste management should be to find reusable value in what we throw away. Although prevention, reuse or recycling should be the first port of call, where none of these are currently happening, then recovering energy from waste is a step up from simply disposing of it in the ground.