Posted on 29/08/2017 in category Environment

Energy from renewable resources: BIR supports recycling above energy recovery

The Bureau of International Recycling has consistently promoted separate collection of end-of-life goods and materials for recycling in order to maintain the quality of their constituent materials for recycling. Valued materials should always be recycled. Separate collection of end-of-life goods and materials is a cornerstone of the circular economy. Furthermore, BIR recognises the waste hierarchy as a practical guide for choosing the best environmental option showing that after reuse, material recycling is better than incineration with energy recovery. Unfortunately, some national and/or local governments subsidize incinerators in order to attract investment to build and run them.

Subsidizing activities lower in the waste hierarchy is likely to distort the recycling market and to perpetuate the less environmentally sound management option. Subsidizing incineration and any final disposal operation is detrimental to society as a whole in the sense that those subsidies have side-effects and indirectly contribute to the destruction of the environment and the over-exploitation of natural resources.

The revision of the "Directive on the promotion of energy from renewable resources" should ensure the waste hierarchy is respected and should not allow or encourage subsidies that prefer energy recovery to recycling or other economic instruments that significantly distort markets for products, by-products, wastes and residues. In clear, quality recyclables and recycled materials should neither be incinerated nor landfilled.

BIR supports that the Directive would stabilise recycling and protect the markets for secondary raw materials by:

(a.) ensuring the Waste Hierarchy, Cascading Use, and the Circular Economy guide ‘waste to energy’ policies;

(b.) excluding perverse subsidies for ‘waste to energy’ from mixed municipal waste and industrial wastes; and

(c.) excluding waste-based fossil fuels from the revised “Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources” as fossil fuels are not renewable.