The role of waste-to-energy in the circular economy: new EU Communication

On 26 january the EU Commission has published a Communication on the role of waste-to-energy processes in the circular economy hoping to maximise the benefits of this small but innovative part of the national energy mix. The Communication provides guidance for Member States to achieve the right balance of waste-to-energy capacity, highlighting the role of the waste hierarchy which ranks waste management options according to their sustainability and gives top priority to preventing and recycling of waste. It helps optimising their contribution to the Energy Union and exploiting the opportunities for cross-border partnerships where this is appropriate and in line with our environmental goals.

This new European document states that "the waste hierarchy is the cornerstone of EU policy and legislation on waste and a key to the transition to the circular economy.Its primary purpose is to establish an order of priority that minimises adverse environmental effects and optimises resource efficiency in waste prevention and management". 

Wood in this new Communication: The Commission considers that "wood waste is commonly used as a feedstock for incineration. As highlighted in the circular economy action plan, a cascading use of renewable resources such as wood, with several reuse and recycling cycles, should be encouraged where appropriate, in line with the waste hierarchy. In this context, it should be recalled that in its legislative package on waste, the Commission has, inter alia, proposed a higher mandatory EU-level target on recycling wood packaging waste. Where reuse or recycling is not possible, energy use of wood waste is desirable to replace fossil fuels and avoid landfilling of wood".

Copy of the Communication is available here:

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