Below are some European-level documents relating to waste and incineration that are worth a read to get a general overview of the situation:

1. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/pdf/final_report_10042012.pdf – European Commission (DG ENV). USE OF ECONOMIC INSTRUMENTS AND WASTE MANAGEMENT PERFORMANCES. Final Report, 10 April 2012.

Discusses incineration taxes across Europe: “Due to a lack of time series data on the change in the level of incineration taxes, it has not been possible to analyse the impact of the rate of incineration tax on the amount of MSW treated by incineration. There is a broad overall trend that higher incineration charges are generally associated with higher percentages of municipal waste being recycled and composted, indicating that higher incineration charges may help to push waste treatment up the waste hierarchy.”

2. http://www.asegre.com/presentaciones/Moving%20up%20the%20Waste%20Hierarchy/Session%201%20-%20M%20Sponar%20-%20Overview%20of%20measures%20leading%20to%20a%20better%20enforcement%20of%20waste%20legislation%20and%20alignment%20of%20EU%20funds%20with%20the%20waste%20hierarchy.pdf – M Sponar. 10th May 2012. Overview of measures leading to a better enforcement of waste legislation and alignment of EU funds with the waste hierarchy.

Michel Sponar was speaking on behalf of the European Commission, Director General for the Environment, when in slide 10 – Economic Instruments Sponar refers to incineration taxes and bans. Slide 12 features a graph of incineration taxes/fees (cost) against recycling rates.

3. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/seance_pleniere/textes_adoptes/provisoire/2012/05-24/0223/P7_TA-PROV(2012)0223_EN.pdf – A resource-efficient Europe. European Parliament resolution of 24 May 2012 on a resource-efficient Europe (2011/2068(INI)).

Calls for an end to the incineration of recyclable and compostable material by the end of the decade and revised 2020 recycling targets. See UKWIN article at http://ukwin.org.uk/2012/05/25/eu-parliament-endorses-the-roadmap-to-a-resource-efficient-europe/ for more details.


As we await the new National Waste Management Plan in England, it is worth noting that in May 2012 Sweden published their waste plan for 2012-2017 (“From Waste Management to Resource Management”) and it is available from: http://www.naturvardsverket.se/upload/06_produkter_och_avfall/avfall/Ny_nationell_avfallsplan/NAP-2012/sveriges%20avfallsplan%20.pdf 

If anyone knows Swedish if would be helpful if they could translate any interesting sections. The following have been adapted from Google’s effort.

“Tillsammans med utbyggnaden av fjärrvärme har skatten på deponering av avfall och deponeringsförbuden medfört att deponeringen minskat och energiutnyttjandet av avfall ökat. Sedan 2010 är kapaciteten för förbränning av avfall i Sverige större än tillgängliga avfallsmängder. Denna situation har lett till lägre mottagningsavgifter vid förbränningsanläggningarna. Det har därmed blivit förhållandevis billigt att förbränna avfallet jämfört med att materialåtervinna det.”

Translation: Along with the expansion of district heating, the tax on waste disposal and landfill bans have resulted in decreased landfill and increased energy recovery/utilisation.  Since 2010, the capacity for waste incineration in Sweden exceed available amounts of waste. This situation has led to lower gate fees at the incineration plants. It has thus become relatively inexpensive to incinerate the waste compared to recycling it.

“Det finns överkapaciteten på förbränning av avfall i Sverige. Låga mottagningsavgifter på avfall till förbränning minskar incitamenten för att sortera ut avfall till materialåtervinning.”

Translation:  There is overcapacity in the incineration of waste in Sweden. Low gate fees for waste for incineration reduces the incentives for users to sort the waste for recycling.

“Insamlingskostnaderna är ett hinder för ökad utsortering av matavfall. Det är idag billigare att samla in avfallet till förbränning. Det beror främst på att kostnaderna blir högre vid separat insamling. Vidare har  ottagningsavgifterna vid förbränningsanläggningarna sänkts. Det beror dels på att örbränningsskatten tagits bort, men även att konkurrensen om avfallet ökat, vilket pressat ned priserna.”

Translation: Collection costs are a barrier to increased diversion of food waste. Today, it is cheaper to collect the waste for incineration. This is mainly due to higher costs for separate collection. Furthermore, gate fees at the incineration plants have been reduced. This is partly due to the removal of the  incineration tax, but is also because competition for the waste is increased and this brought down prices.

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