Zero Waste Europe’s work on the Climate and Energy programme in 2017 can be divided into 4 main areas of work.
The main focus of our work in this area throughout 2017 was on the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) to bring it into alignment with the EU waste legislation. This meant working with the members of the Parliament committees to highlight issues such as a lack of coherence between the waste and the renewable policies. Targeting members of the European Parliament who were active in the development of the circular economy package with scandals of energy-from waste facilities in their countries was a very effective way to win MEPs support for our amendments in the recast of REDII. As a result most of our amendments were adopted by the parliament during the plenary. This meant that the Parliament significantly strengthened the Commission’s proposal to ensure that the waste hierarchy was applied to the use of waste and residues. Moreover, the adopted text included a direct exclusion of subsidies for energy from waste which ensures that it does not comply with the separate collection obligations set out in Directive 2008/98/EC.
2. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) accounting from zero waste strategies
In 2017 Zero Waste Europe established a partnership with Zero Waste Scotland to support research and develop a methodology for accounting for GHG reductions from waste management strategies. The first case study to be published in 2018, will focus on one of the zero waste municipalities in Usurbil, Spain, to demonstrate the GHG savings made through their zero waste strategy.
3. Toxic emissions from waste burning
Zero Waste Europe has supported and documented local struggles around air pollution facilities, investing capacity to investigate and report on those struggles through our blogs and communication platforms. Moreover, a peer-reviewed case study has been published in the academic journal Sustainability Science based on 15 interviews conducted with local anti-incineration groups in Spain who have expressed their views and strategies on their local campaigns, which has been shared with allied NGOs following the process of revision of BREF (the EU’s best available technique reference documents) on incineration to improve the air pollution standards and thereby feed into policy processes. Zero Waste Europe has also supported the organisation of the International Gathering Against Incineration taking place in Mexico in 2017, ensuring the participation of a zero waste expert on behalf of ZWE and reporting back to groups in Europe.
4. Financing waste burning in developing countries
Zero Waste Europe has followed up with specific countries in Europe, i.e. France and Germany, in terms of their climate finance contributions towards the waste management sector in developing countries. In both cases, Zero Waste Europe has had a chance to publish the results of our research and raise these issues directly with government representatives – the French Ministry of Development and the GIZ (German Agency for Development and Cooperation) with the support of national and international NGOs. In 2017, Zero Waste Europe published a policy-briefing on zero waste and climate finance to provide an overview of the contribution of zero waste strategies towards climate mitigation, highlighting the best practices in the global south. This policy briefing, together with a sign-on letter that gathered support from more than 30 international networks reached the Green Climate Fund Board during their last meeting in South Korea during November 2017. Unfortunately, Zero Waste Europe has not been able to follow up the specific commitments of EU member states to the Paris Agreement, as the Agreement has not given the EU a binding mandate to put forward relevant emission reduction commitments, nor a coherent GHG emissions accounting methodology, which has resulted in a weaken policy agenda with poor results.