No Renewable Energy incentives for waste-based fuels from plastic

The Commission proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive is currently under discussion at the European Parliament. Our joint letter urges MEPs from the ENVI and ITRE committees to exclude waste-based fossil fuels, such as plastics, from the scope of the future directive.

Plastics are mostly produced from fossil feedstock and should not be considered as suitable input materials for renewable energy applications. In addition, such incentives will divert plastic waste streams from closed loop re-use and recycling, as required by the EU Circular Economy policy. Furthermore, energy recovery from waste materials is the second to last preferred option of the EU waste hierarchy. For that reason, the Renewable Energy Directive should not introduce support schemes that contradict the existing policy framework for waste.

Waste-to-energy discussions closely relate to ECOS’ work on Solid Recovered Fuels (SRFs), where we have long advocated for specifications which limit overall greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions. Problematic emissions from SRF typically concern dioxins and furans, as well as chlorine and heavy metals such as Cadmium and Thallium. ECOS’ approach to incineration of any wastes, whether by dedicated waste incineration or by SRF-users, is that such activities should at no time undermine the drive to the priority activities of waste prevention, re-use and material recycling.

This approach has been equally promoted in the technical committees on Plastics (CEN/TC 249) and Packaging (CEN/TC 261), where future standardisation activities are expected e.g. on design for durability, recycled content.

Read the full letter here