Manage residual waste responsibly within a circular economy
Material Recovery and Biological Treatment (MRBT)
We need a new strategy for the management of municipal residual waste that prioritises material recovery and biological treatment over energy recovery, in line with the goals of the new circular economy vision and the present climate emergency.” – Enzo Favoino, Chair of the Zero Waste Europe Scientific Committee
The current system for dealing with municipal residual waste (mixed waste) is outdated and broken. Municipal residual waste is increasingly incinerated for energy in Europe. This over-reliance on waste to energy incineration has contributed to a lock-in effect in waste management systems which prevents proper recycling and makes climate change worse. This is why ZWE proposes a new approach – Material Recovery and Biological Treatment (MRBT), a system that combines biological treatment (to stabilise fermentable materials found in residual waste) with sorting equipment (to recover materials that were not targeted – e.g. non-packaging plastics – or captured by separate collection).
This approach sufficiently diverts waste from landfills and incinerators thanks to the recovery of some materials and process losses from biological stabilisation.
To promote the MRBT concept, ZWE work is twofold:
- At the EU level, we call on the European Commission to propose a dedicated EU strategy for the management of residual waste that prioritises MRBT over energy recovery, in line with the goals of the new circular economy vision and the present climate emergency.
- At the national level, we work with our members and allies to help make a case for MRBT facilities by providing policy and technical advice.