"In Europe, a Backlash Is Growing Over Incinerating Garbage"

"For years, European countries have built “waste-to-energy” incinerators, saying new technology minimized pollution and boosted energy production. But with increasing concern about the plants’ CO2 emissions, the EU is now withdrawing support for these trash-burning facilities."

"For decades, Europe has poured millions of tons of its trash into incinerators each year, often under the green-sounding label “waste to energy.” Now, concerns about incineration’s outsized carbon footprint and fears it may undermine recycling are prompting European Union officials to ease their long-standing embrace of a technology that once seemed like an appealing way to make waste disappear.

The EU is in the process of cutting off funding for new incinerators, but there’s little sign most existing ones —currently consuming 27 percent of the bloc’s municipal waste — will close any time soon. And, even without EU financial support, new plants are in the works, many in southern and eastern European countries that have historically incinerated less than long-standing waste-to-energy proponents such as Germany, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian nations. Meanwhile, across the English Channel, post-Brexit Britain is charging ahead with proposals for dozens of new garbage-burning projects.

Without a more decisive change of course, critics argue, that adds up to an existential threat both to Europe’s promise to slash carbon emissions to net-zero by midcentury and its dreams of a “circular economy” in which reuse and recycling largely take the place of waste disposal."

Beth Gardiner reports for Yale Environment 360 April 1, 2021.

Source: YaleE360, 04/08/2021