Household waste landfills - BDE calls for EU-wide ban by 2030

Discussion event with political and business representatives in Brussels

BDE e.V.

The BDE Bundesverband der Deutschen Entsorgungs-, Wasser- und Kreislaufwirtschaft (Federal Association of the German Waste Management, Water and Environmental Service Industries) has once again pointed out the need for a landfill ban for untreated municipal waste throughout Europe. At the same time, the association emphasized thermal recycling as a better alternative to landfilling non-recyclable waste in several respects.
"Anyone who is serious about climate protection and resource conservation in Europe cannot get around such a landfill ban. I am pleased that we were able to hold such a high-profile event with representatives from the Commission, Parliament, and companies on this important topic for the first time in Brussels," said BDE President Peter Kurth in Brussels on Thursday.
There, the association had invited representatives from politics, EU institutions, science, and companies to a panel discussion on the topic.
At the beginning of the event, Dr. Bärbel Birnstengel from the think tank "Prognos" presented a study of her institute, which deals with the CO2 reduction potential in the European waste management. She emphasized that diverting waste from landfills is essential for functioning recycling. This would also require the right framework conditions on the part of policymakers. The complete abandonment of domestic waste landfills has a CO2 reduction potential of about 120 million tons.
Representatives of two companies then gave practical examples.
In his contribution, Dr. Christian Hower-Knobloch, Managing Director of MVV Umwelt GmbH and member of the Board of Directors of the BDE, emphasized the particular importance of thermal technology in the hygienization and safe disposal of waste, the recovery or recycling of slag, and the climate-neutral supply of process steam and district heating. In addition, thermal sewage sludge recycling could contribute to phosphorus recycling and the production of fertilizers. Thermal recovery is not in competition with recycling, as thermal is intended to recycle those wastes that cannot be otherwise recovered or can only be landfilled. Thermal, he said, is an indispensable complement to recycling and thus superior to the much more harmful landfilling as a cornerstone of the circular economy.
EEW CFO and member of the presidium of the BDE Markus Hauck explained that WtE plants can make a significant contribution to the climate and raw material targets of the European Union. The thermal recycling of waste, he said, has the chance to even make this industry a CO2-positive one as part of a sustainable circular economy and to use CO2 as a raw material. In the future, the task should not be waste-to-energy, but waste-to-value. Because, contrary to what is often assumed, thermal waste recycling is not an end-of-pipe technology, but a door opener for better, higher-quality and more environmentally friendly recycling - in contrast to landfilling.
The aforementioned points were then the subject of the subsequent panel discussion, which was also attended by the Director of Circular Economy in the EU Commission's Directorate-General for the Environment, Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea, and Hildegard Bentele, Member of the European Parliament and also  member of the ENVI Committee.
Ciobanu-Dordea stressed that there must be a majority in politics for these demands and highlighted the EU's plans according to which only ten percent of waste in Europe is to be landfilled by 2035.
During the discussion, MEP Hildegard Bentele also encouraged the decision-makers in the Commission to act more quickly. At the same time, she praised the companies' commitment to more recycling management and modern waste treatment.
BDE President Peter Kurth expressed his satisfaction with the course of the discussion: "Ending the landfilling of untreated municipal waste is a particularly low-hanging fruit in the fight against methane gas emissions and climate change. We could gain millions of additional tons of recyclable materials for recycling and avoid tens of millions of tons of methane gas emissions. Several countries in the EU, like Germany, have shown that this is possible. The German government is called upon to take the agreement in the coalition agreement seriously and to take action in Brussels now. The revision of the Waste Framework Directive this year and the Landfill Directive next year can be the regulatory framework for such a ban. I thank all contributors for their support at our event today."