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“Hazier than ever”: ZWE calls for clear EU guidance on application of carbon capture storage

#“Hazier than ever”: ZWE calls for clear EU guidance on application of carbon capture storage

08 Feb 2024 — The EU’s Industrial Carbon Management (ICM) strategy needs clear criteria for how carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) will be applied in the waste sector, says Zero Waste Europe (ZWE).

In the European Commission’s (EC) strategy document released earlier this week, there was a “notable absence” of specific criteria for addressing the use of CCUS in waste incinerators and its potential implications, according to the environmental network.

Industrial carbon management involves using a range of technologies to capture, store, transport and use CO2 emissions from industrial facilities and to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, writes the EC in the issued press release.

The EU’s ICM strategy seeks to develop these technologies and the regulatory and investment framework to support them.

A considerate strategy
The absence of “meticulous” design in the ICM communication raises concerns that it may inadvertently strengthen the position of waste incineration as the primary waste management solution, warns ZWE. This could undermine existing decommissioning plans, particularly in light of the evident overcapacity in Europe.

Carbon emissions emerging from industrial site.The lack of clarity regarding CCUS raises concerns about its potential impact on circularity principles, warns Vahk (Image credit: ZWE).Janek Vahk, ZWE’s zero pollution policy manager, tells Packaging Insights: “We need to set clear rules for waste facilities that burn trash to make sure we only use CCUS in the places where it’s most likely needed in the future. Instead of making CCS mandatory for all these facilities, we should decide based on certain criteria.”

Vahk says that these criteria should consider how much waste each country and the EU can handle, whether the waste is sorted before burning and whether the facility does more than burn waste.

“For example, some co-incinerator facilities not only burn waste but also serve other purposes. For these places, CCS might be necessary to help reduce carbon emissions as part of a larger plan to cut down on climate pollution.”

Joint calls for strict strategy
A recent cost-benefit analysis conducted by ZWE revealed that CCUS is the least cost-effective method for reducing emissions from waste incinerators compared to alternative strategies such as mixed waste sorting technologies.

“We lack clear guidance on which projects will consider CCUS, especially in the waste sector. The lack of clarity regarding the application of CCUS raises concerns about its potential impact on circularity principles,” warns Vahk.

“Right now, it’s hazier than ever. We want to ensure that CCUS does not undermine circularity principles, and for this reason, we strongly urge the EC to establish quality criteria that safeguard circularity, bridging sectoral gaps affected by the strategy.”

The call for strict quality criteria is reinforced by German groups such as the Federation of German Industries (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie), the German Trade Union Confederation (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund), German environmental NGO NABU (Naturschutzbund Deutschland) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Germany.

In their joint position paper, the group urges the German government to adopt a carbon management strategy to kickstart the country’s industrial transformation.

“We call on the German government to present a carbon management strategy that fulfills strict quality criteria, creates clarity and encourages participation,” Vivianne Raddatz, who heads WWF’s Berlin office, told news outlet Euractiv.

By Natalie Schwertheim

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