Recycled carbon fuels: governments’ rush puts circular economy and climate mitigation at stake, warns new briefing


09 Apr 2019


Press Contact: Janek Vahk, Development and Policy Coordinator, Zero Waste Europe
[email protected]  | +32 (0) 2 73 62 091

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels 9/4/2019

Member States´ rush to regulate ¨Recycled Carbon Fuels¨ within the transposition of the Renewable Energy Directive [1] risks undermining their efforts towards climate change mitigation and the circular economy, warn Zero Waste Europe and Bellona with a joint briefing launched today [1].

Even though Member States can already include Recycled Carbon Fuels into their national frameworks within the transport targets, the sustainability criteria to evaluate their impact in terms of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions are still being defined by the European Commission under the delegated acts due by the end of 2021.

The briefing highlights key concerns and recommendations aimed at national governments and EU Commission to ensure that the REDII is implemented in a way which is fully in line with the EU climate and circular economy policies.

Janek Vahk, Development and Policy Coordinator at Zero Waste Europe said: “Member States should not include recycled carbon fuels as part of their national targets until a proper evaluation of their environmental impact is made – or the decarbonisation of the transport sector, and the effort to improve products design and recycling will be jeopardised.

Recycled Carbon Fuels are produced from liquid or solid waste streams of non-renewable origin, including fossil waste such as plastics [2].

Ana Serdoner, Policy and Project Advisor at Bellona said: ¨Burning plastics in our cars is just as bad as burning it in a waste treatment plant. Creating a fuel out of fossil material, whether that source is plastic or any other, is incompatible with the zero-emission future Europe is aiming for.¨

Zero Waste Europe and Bellona call on the European Commission to develop a set of robust environmental criteria that ensure the impacts of these fuels are accounted for properly, and on national governments to refrain from regulating these fuels before those criteria are set.


[1] Revised Renewable Energy Directive

[2] Joint briefing by Bellona and Zero waste Europe: 

[3] Recycled Carbon Fuels means liquid and gaseous fuels that are produced from liquid or solid waste streams of non-renewable origin which are not suitable for material recovery in accordance with Article 4 of Directive 2008/98/EC, or from waste processing gas and exhaust gas of non-renewable origin which are produced as an unavoidable and unintentional consequence of the production process in industrial installations.