The True Toxic Toll / Netherlands – Biomonitoring research on persistent organic pollutants in the environment of the REC Waste Incinerator in Harlingen

The “True Toxic Toll” campaign is back with the most recent findings on the harmful impact of incinerator emissions on human health and the environment.

The latest research conducted by ToxicoWatch on behalf of Zero Waste Europe analysed the persistent organic pollutants in the environment surrounding the REC Waste Incinerator in Harlingen, the Netherlands. This time, we analysed backyard chicken eggs; fruit and vegetables such as apples, cauliflower, and kale; and vegetation from the surrounding villages and settlements.

Among other findings, the results showed that:
– High levels of dioxins were found in the eggs of backyard chickens sampled within a 3 km radius of the waste incinerator.
– The PFOS level in eggs sampled from Wijnaldum, located 2 km from the incinerator, largely exceeds the limit imposed by EU regulations.
– There are high levels of aluminium in eggshells sampled from Wijnaldum.

These findings raise concerns about the region’s environmental health and the health of those living near the incinerator.

Available in English and Dutch.

The True Toxic Toll / Slovakia – Biomonitoring research on persistent organic pollutants in the environmental surrounding the cement plant in Turňa nad Bodvou

The “True Toxic Toll” campaign is back with the most recent findings on the harmful impact of incinerator emissions on human health and the environment.

The latest research conducted by ToxicoWatch on behalf of Zero Waste Europe analysed the persistent organic pollutants in the environment surrounding a cement kiln in Turňa nad Bodvou, Slovakia. This time, we analysed fruit such as apples, figs, and grapes; backyard chicken eggs; vegetation; and dust, water, and sediments from the surrounding villages.

The results showed that:
– PFAs were detected in grapes and fig leaves; and PAH levels were found in apples and grapes;
– There were concentrations of dioxins, PAH, and PFAS in eggs, pine needles, and mosses;
– Eggs from backyard chickens in three locations exceeded the EU limit for dioxins.
– Elevated levels of PAH were found in roof dust.

These findings raise concerns about the region’s environmental health and the health of those living near the incinerator.

Available in English and Slovak.

Materials or gases? How to capture carbon

This study explores mixed waste sorting as a cost-effective strategy for substantial reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from waste incineration, challenging the viability of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Comparing Leftover Mixed Waste Sorting (LMWS) and CCS, the study suggests LMWS as a swift, economical approach for municipalities and incineration operators to achieve significant GHG reductions, offering flexibility and avoiding excessive costs linked to CCS. The ‘low-regret’ nature of LMWS is highlighted, aiding Member States in meeting recycling and climate targets while reducing incineration capacity.

Available in English.

Joint letter – NGOs and industry call on the Waste Framework Directive revision

In this joint letter, civil society and industry organisations would like to express their support for a limited expansion of the current scope of the proposal to revise the Waste Framework Directive (WFD).

While a comprehensive revision of the WFD should be envisaged in the future, the current revision should address urgent issues related to incineration and landfilling of municipal waste and introduce targets for the collection and recycling of waste oils. This is crucial to deliver on the Green Deal commitments and speed up the transition towards a circular economy.

Available in English.

Enough is enough: The case for a moratorium on incineration

This report by Zero Waste Europe highlights a critical concern surrounding the surplus waste incineration capacities in the European Union. This comprehensive study reveals a troubling pattern of annual growth in waste incineration capacity, with a surplus reaching 60 million tonnes in 2020 and the potential to soar to a staggering 220 million tonnes by 2023. The report underscores the urgent need for EU-wide measures and recommends a reevaluation of incineration’s position in the waste hierarchy, potentially reclassifying it as a disposal operation, to foster more sustainable waste management practices throughout the region.

Executive summary available in English, Italian, and Bulgarian.

Full report available in English.

Decarbonisation of Single-Use Beverage Packaging

Commissioned to Eunomia Research & Consulting by Zero Waste Europe, this study builds upon Eunomia’s previous investigation into materials decarbonisation pathways in the report “Is Net Zero Enough for the Material Production Sector?”.

Focussing on the four materials with the greatest emissions globally, the study found that each will have great difficulty in reducing GHG emissions in line with a 1.5°C future by 2050, particularly if mass consumption continues and increases. Whilst studying the global material picture provides valuable insights; policymakers may find it more useful to have the same approach applied at the product level. Therefore, this study delves into the Net Zero pathways of aluminium, PET, and glass when utilised in beverage packaging within the EU, evaluating their potential performance within a cumulative GHG emissions budget that aligns with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Full report available in English. Executive summary available in English, French, and Latvian.

Reimagining the Waste Framework Directive

The current revision of the Waste Framework Directive, which has guided EU policy in this area since 1975, offers an opportunity to design a coherent and consistent policy framework for a circular economy.

This white paper by Eunomia, TOMRA, Minderoo Foundation, Handelens Miljøfond, and Zero Waste Europe presents a vision for 2040, describing the way in which society will use materials and products in an economy that is well on its way to circularity. This sets the stage for the development of a detailed policy blueprint, supported by research and stakeholder engagement, for the steps needed to realise the vision.

Available in English

Nothing left behind: modelling Material Recovery and Biological Treatment’s contribution to resource recovery and fighting climate change

Our new study with Equanimator Ltd proves the cost-competitiveness of Material Recovery and Biological Treatment (MRBT)-based approaches for mixed waste treatment. The study found that MRBT costs are lower than costs for incineration, with MRBT becoming even more compelling once incinerators are included in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

Available in English.

Joint reaction to Joint Research Center studies

Zero Waste Europe joined RPa, ECOS, and Deutsch Umwelthilfe on a reaction to the Joint Research Center (JRC) studies that are intended to provide a scientific analysis of chemical ‘recycling’. In focusing too much on pyrolysis and gasification, these studies set the wrong pathway for the definition of recycling, which should ensure only efficient technologies are promoted.

Guidance for the interpretation of the European Parliament proposal on Art. 29 of the REDIII regarding mixed waste sorting systems of ‘defined quality’

This policy briefing by Reloop and Zero Waste Europe provides guidelines for legislating mixed waste sorting (MWS) in the context of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED). The guidelines were developed to clarify the amendment proposed by the European Parliament regarding the use of mixed wastes for ‘renewable energy’ purposes. The document recommends applying MWS systems of defined quality to remove fossil-derived materials to ensure that only biogenic waste is used for renewable energy generation. Following the requirement, the operators would either need to pre-sort the waste on-site or demonstrate that all waste received has undergone sorting prior to it being delivered for incineration.

Available in English.

Mixed Waste Sorting to meet the EU’s Circular Economy Objectives

This report and policy briefing studied whether, and to what extent, the EU recycling targets can be met through improved recyclability of packaging and increased separate collections of municipal waste—and, if not, what measures could be taken to achieve them.

It has examined the role mixed waste sorting (MWS) could play in three EU countries with high recycling performance – Germany, Belgium, and Sweden. The conclusion was concluded that, in addition to separate collection and improved recyclability of plastic packaging, a full roll-out of effective MWS is necessary to ensure that recycling targets are consistently met and to ensure progress towards the EU’s wider carbon emissions reduction goals.

Available in English.

Debunking Efficient Recovery: The Performance of EU Incineration Facilities

This report estimates efficiencies of generation of energy from waste for Member States which incinerate a significant share of the waste incinerated across the EU. It highlights that the energy efficiency  of EU incinerators are appallingly low and the distinction between recovery (R1) and disposal (D10) incininerators is arbitrary, and should therefore be dropped from the EU Waste Directive.

Full report available in English. Executive summaries are available in English and Hungarian.

 

The True Toxic Toll: Biomonitoring research on dioxins (PCDD/F and DL-PCB), PFAS and PAH 2022

Building on the 2021 results, Zero Waste Europe coordinated again a biomonitoring research on incinerator emissions across Europe, together with ToxicoWatch, Hnuti Duha, Ziedine Ekonomika, and Ecologists en Accion Spain.
The results found again high levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the vicinity of incinerators.

Available in English. 

Executive Summaries are available in English, Lithuanian and Czech.

 

Open letter to the European Commission on keeping up the ambition in times of crisis

Together with 29 other organisations and associations, Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) sent an open letter to the President of the European Commission, the Executive-Vice-President, the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries and the Commissioner for lnternal Market on the topic of the current energy crisis. In the letter, the signatories state their concerns regarding the European project not being capable of delivering on its objectives of peace, prosperity, and equality with the current policies. The signatories urge the Commission to redouble its efforts to increase resource efficiency and decarbonise production and consumption. Consequently, the policies on circularity and net-zero should be reinforced and remain at the top of the EU agenda.

Letter on the GHG emissions saving methodology for RCF

Zero Waste Europe, ECOS, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Transport & Environment (T&E), Bellona and Polish Zero Waste Association sent a joint letter to the Permanent Representations as well as the ENVI and ITRE rapporteurs and shadows of the Renewable Energy Directive on the GHG emissions of waste-based recycled carbon fuels ahead of the third trilogue meeting on 14 December 2022. The letter underlines the importance of taking the carbon content of feedstock when analyzing low carbon fuels.

New Energy For Europe

The European project as we know it is running out of steam and it is not capable of delivering on its objectives of peace, prosperity, and equality.

In order to stay within the commitment of 1.5°C degrees warming, the broken paradigm based on economic growth should be replaced with a new one. Our Manifesto calls on the need for building a new European project based on wellbeing, sufficiency, and resilience.

Joint letter – Inclusion of waste incineration in the EU ETS

In a joint letter addressed to the Permanent Representations of EU member states, Zero Waste Europe and 17 other civil society organisations urge the EU to reduce its municipal waste incineration capacities; and to fully exploit the climate protection potential of waste prevention and recycling, in order to achieve the EU’s climate protection targets.

Available in English.