CO2 reduction potential by the European waste management sector

Date: 24 January 2022

A joint study by research organisations Prognos and CE Delft, on behalf of the following European Waste Management Associations: FEAD, CEWEP, the RDF Industry Group, and the Dutch Waste Management Association, conducted a study around the CO2 reduction potential of the European waste management sector. The report of this study was launched on Monday 24th January 2022. The report, which is supported by NAWDO, highlights the following:

  • Key result - Projections: By successfully applying current waste legislation (Projection 1) by 2035 across the EU27+UK, the CO2 emission avoidance potential is significantly improved to -137 Mt CO2eq, delivering a saving of 150 Mt CO2eq. The savings potential would almost double in the more ambitious projection 2. The current baseline CO2 net emission burden of 13 Mt CO2eq in the 20-year perspective could drop to -283 Mt CO2eq net emission avoidance which results in savings of 296 Mt CO2eq.
  • Landfill Diversion: The study shows how the largest gains are made by reducing landfilling of particularly organic waste materials, such as paper & cardboard and biowastes, achieving a reduction of up to 120 Mt CO2eq. Additional significant potential reductions are provided by energy recovery of residual wastes/WDF.
  • Transport Sensitivity: Transport has only a small effect on the net CO2 emissions. A sensitivity analysis considering only residual waste/WDF has been conducted, showing that energy recovery is preferable to landfilling even if the waste would be transported for a large distance (9000 km) in a medium-sized truck.
  • To achieve maximum CO2 avoidance, policy makers are advised to make optimal use of all available capacity for recycling and waste-to-energy within EU27+UK.