Waste-to-Energy Contributing to Resource Efficiency
In cooperation with recycling, Waste-to-Energy Plants help Member States divert waste that is not good enough for recycling from landfilling and use it to generate energy.
However 34% of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) across the EU 28 is still landfilled, although landfill gasses (methane) contribute significantly to global warming (equaling 25 times CO2).
How can Member States, who still mainly rely on landfilling, fulfil the aims of the European Landfill Directive, i.e. diverting biodegradable waste from landfills and progress beyond this aim?
What are the alternatives and how can they be intelligently combined to achieve maximum reduction of environmental impact?
The Member States who have most successfully reduced dependence on landfill have done this by combining recycling, biological treatment (e.g. composting and anaerobic digestion), and Waste-to-Energy.
Graph on the treatment of municipal waste in Europe in 2012
Waste-to-Energy is a hygienic means of treating waste (destroying viruses and bacteria), which prevents polluted or degraded materials from entering the recycling-process and then into new products.
The combustion process cleans and separates metals and inerts from mixed waste, which could not otherwise be recycled. As a result further recycling of these metals is possible. Please see the section on Waste-to-Energy and Resource Efficiency for further information