Effective policy implementation crucial for Vietnam to achieve high-income status by 2045

Today, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED III) and the European Energy Emission Trading Scheme. transmission (ETS). Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) supports decisions taken to help accelerate the transition to a circular economy in Europe.

RED III (Renewable Energy Directive)

The ENVI committee agreed to limit the use of mixed waste for the production of ‘renewable energy’.

Sorting of mixed waste & support systems

The ENVI commission modifies the definition of biomass by deleting the expression “fraction of” in reference to waste and by introducing a mandatory system for sorting mixed waste. Both amendments ensure that only non-recyclable biogenic waste will be used for renewable energy purposes. Moreover, the incineration of biogenic waste (bio-waste, paper, etc.) can only be supported if the obligations for separate collection, recycling and reuse are fully respected.

For Janek Vähk, coordinator of the climate, energy and air pollution program at the ZWE: “The change is very positive because, in incineration plants, the “biodegradable fraction of waste” is still burned with materials of fossil origin. This will end the production of renewable energy using technology powered by a substance – a mixture of waste – that is far from renewable”.

Recycled Carbon Fuel – RCF

The agreed text also improves European Commission wording to limit the potential use of “recycled carbon fuels” derived from fossil waste, such as turning plastic into fuel.

In the proposed methodology to assess greenhouse gas (GHG) emission savings for recycled carbon fuels, the ENVI Committee deleted the reference to the concept of ‘avoided emissions’. The concept would have allowed plastic-fuel manufacturers to subtract emissions that are “avoided” from alternative use, such as waste incineration, which would have made it easier for these fuels to meet the savings threshold of 70% GHG required, in the transport sector to contribute towards renewable energy targets. A recent study on the conversion of plastic to fuels shows that plastic-derived fuels produce high exhaust emissions compared to diesel.

Lauriane Veillard, ZWE Chemical Recycling and Plastic-to-Fuels Policy Officer said: “We welcome the committee’s decision to exclude ‘avoided emissions’ from the calculation rules for recycled carbon fuels. From ZWE’s perspective, supporting the development of RCFs in the context of RED III would have undermined the higher levels of the waste hierarchy by discouraging ‘reduce and reuse’ behaviours.

ZWE asks the European Parliament to improve the wording. in its next vote in September. to completely exclude the use of fossil fuels in the Renewable Energy Directive.

ETS (EU Emissions Trading System)

The ENVI commission has proposed the inclusion of the incineration of municipal waste in the EU ETS. This means that from 2026, these climate-intensive facilities will have to pay an ETS carbon price (charge) for every tonne of fossil CO2 they emit. This additional cost of incineration will act as an incentive for the prevention and recycling of waste, which will then become more competitive (ie less expensive) than incineration. Additionally, additional jobs will be created as recycling and waste prevention activities are more labor intensive than waste incineration.

Janek Vähk, ZWE Climate, Energy and Air Pollution Program Coordinator: “The proposed inclusion of incinerators is hugely positive as the doubling of fossil CO2 emissions from these facilities has gone unnoticed and unaddressed for decades.”

A recent report shows that a third of CO2 emissions from the plastics system are caused by the incineration of plastic waste. The inclusion of incinerators is necessary to encourage plastics circularity and waste prevention, and to reduce CO2 emissions (see ZWE report on ETS).

Nevertheless, the ENVI committee is only proposing to include incinerators from 2026 after carrying out a review in 2024 to consider potential measures to avoid the “unintended consequences” of inclusion.

Janek Vähk added: “From ZWE’s point of view, late inclusion and review are not warranted. Both shipping and landfilling of waste are well regulated and have specific goals such as landfill minimization and pre-treatment obligations. These rules will be further strengthened with the current revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation and the Waste Framework Directive”.

“Inclusion is of fundamental importance to successfully achieve the EU’s climate and circularity goals. We hope that the European Parliament will support the position of the ENVI Committee in its next vote in June by supporting the inclusion of municipal waste incinerators in the EU ETS”.