Is net zero enough for the materials sector?

When considering the urgency of reducing GHG emissions there is a possibility that, despite the aims of the net zero pathways, the cumulative carbon emissions budget will be exceeded. This is due to the risks associated with deploying unproven technologies in some sectors.

This report by Zero Waste Europe and Eunomia allocated a risk factor associated with each intervention and quantified how this influences the likelihood of overshooting the remaining carbon budget. It also attempted to determine whether the overshoot can be reduced by accelerating the adoption model deployed for technological interventions.

Available in English.

Incineration and residues in the EU: quantities and fates

This study seeks to understand the quantity of residues generated by incineration of waste in the EU, and what happens to those residues – in particular, how much residue may be being landfilled.

Although the report is focused mainly on incineration, it sought to understand the quantity of residues from both incineration and co-incineration when considering ‘all wastes’. The Industrial Emissions Directive distinguishes these according to whether the facility is ‘dedicated to the thermal treatment of waste’ (incineration) or a facility whose main purpose is the generation of energy or production of material products (co-incineration).

Available in English (report and executive summary) and Polish (executive summary only).

How Circular Is Glass?

Glass production, especially from primary sources, is a high energy-consuming process. One way to effectively reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the repeated production of single-use glass is to retain material in a circular system – e.g. by utilising the cullet from container glass to produce new container glass, i.e. closed-loop recycling, and thereby removing the need to use glass from primary sources.

To understand the current circularity of single-use container glass in different geographical scopes, this study examines the mass flows of single-use glass packaging in four countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. For each case study, the key limitations to circularity are discussed and the potential to improving glass circularity are explored. The study also reviews other limitations and opportunities the single-use container glass industry is facing, and future developments being considered to overcome these challenges.

Available in English.

Waste trade and incineration – debunking an unnecessary alliance

To further limit the waste shipped outside its territory, the EU is looking at adopting new waste export bans. In this case, any surplus of waste should be absorbed by intra-EU recycling, prevention, and reuse activities. However, the incineration industry claims that potential waste export restrictions should lead to an increase in the need for incineration capacity.

This study demonstrates that the need for further incineration capacity resulting from new waste export bans is neither necessary nor justified.

Available in English.

Waste Incineration under the EU ETS – An assessment of climate benefits

Municipal waste incineration is currently excluded from the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). If incineration is included, waste companies will have to buy emission credits for each tonne of CO2 they emit when treating household, company, and industrial waste. This additional cost of incineration can act as an incentive for waste prevention and recycling, which will then become more competitive (less costly) than incineration. 

A shift of (not biologically pre-treated) waste to landfills should be avoided and is already restricted under the Landfill Directive.

 The results of this study, requested by Zero Waste Europe and carried out by CE Delft, show that including incineration under the EU ETS would indeed encourage waste prevention and recycling, yielding both climate and employment benefits.

 

AVAILABLE IN ENGLISH

Bio-waste generation in the EU: Current capture levels and future potential

Zero Waste Europe and the Bio-based Industries Consortium analyse the untapped potential of biowaste (garden and food waste) in Europe. The first study of its kind details the current generation and capture rates in the EU with dedicated country fact-sheets and municipalities best practice.

Available in English

Packaging Free Shops in Europe – An initial report

Zero Waste Europe releases the first ever European study on the state of play and the potential growth for the packaging free shops market. Conducted by Eunomia, in collaboration with Réseau Vrac and the Zero Waste Europe network.

Available in English, Slovenian, Spanish and Hungarian