Responding to the European Parliament (EP) Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) report on the EU Strategy to reduce methane emissions, adopted on September 28, 2021, the European Suppliers of Waste-to-Energy Technology (ESWET) said that it welcomes ENVI's report that "supports bold actions to minimize the damages methane causes to the environment", of which the waste sector cannot be left out.
According to ESWET, ENVI’s report underlines the need for bold action against methane emissions in the waste sector noting that methane (CH4) is a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG).
However, unlike carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), methane emissions – which represent 11 percent of the total GHG emissions in the EU – are not regulated properly in the European Union (EU), which ENVI’s report “makes clear that that this will change”.
In recent months, international organizations have raised alarms about the impact of methane on the environment; the recent IPCC report released in August 2021 warned that robust, rapid, and sustained reductions in methane emissions are needed to keep global warming in check.
Earlier in 2021, the UNEP Global Methane Assessment report identified the waste sector as having the most significant mitigation potential for reducing methane emissions in Europe. This means that addressing landfills is key.
As a last-resort option in the waste hierarchy, landfills are the most polluting way to manage waste, both in terms of GHG emissions and other risks of pollution to air, soil, and groundwater.
However, ESWET highlights that landfills remain the primary waste management option in several EU member states. In 2019, more than 20 percent of municipal solid waste (MSW) was still landfilled in Europe.
Today, the parliamentary report demonstrated that the European Parliament is taking the methane issue seriously. Acknowledging Waste-to-Energy’s role in diverting non-recyclable waste from landfills and reducing methane emissions in the waste sector, while recovering energy and recycling metals and other aggregates, would be a further step in the right direction, said Patrick Clerens, Secretary-General, ESWET.