European environmentalists call on Commission to address problem of energy recovery

The European Environment Bureau (EEB) is calling on the European Commission to tackle the problem of the release of hazardous substances from the burning of waste by industry in order to generate heat or electricity, known as energy recovery.


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According to a new EEB report, Ecodumping by Energy Recovery, waste is often recycled in facilities with lower environmental protection standards than those that apply to waste disposal, which can lead to distortions of competition. In particular, this applies to wastes that are used as a product such as a substitute fuel, which is considered to be a type of recycling, and therefore intrinsically ecologically positive.

“You find the most dirty and hazardous industries in the recovery sector,” says Christian Hey, the EEB’s EU Policy Director. “Those industries do not only make business with pollution, but also manage to convince high level Commission officials that their business is a good business.”

Waste avoidance should be considered a top priority, with recycling only being pursued where the materials are non-polluting. For wastes that are unavoidable and cannot be recycled, the issue of energy disposal arises. The EEB recommends that there should be defined upper limits of pollutant contamination for all types of recycling, especially with regard to chlorine and toxic heavy metals.

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