Giving Compass' Take:
- Beth Gardiner examines the carbon footprint of garbage incineration in the EU and how this stands in opposition to its stated hopes for a circular economy.
- What would systems change to address the climate crisis look like? How can we take action to make this a reality?
- Read about climate action.
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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 mid-century and its dreams of a “circular economy” in which reuse and recycling largely take the place of waste disposal.
Read the full article about garbage incineration in Europe by Beth Gardiner at Grist.