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Waste-to-Energy and the Circular Economy - Connecting the dots

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Abstract

In late 2015, the European Commission adopted the Circular Economy Package aimed at promoting the transition to a sustainable, low carbon, resource efficient and competitive economy in the European Union. This contribution examines how the European Commission interprets the Circular Economy concept on the particular topic of Waste-to-Energy (WtE) practices. Its objective is to find an answer to the question whether the proposed EU policy on the Circular Economy can align and potentially unite the existing frameworks regulating WtE, which consists of the waste framework legislation on the one hand and energy legislation on the other. To this end, this contribution first explains the EU policies regarding the Circular Economy and examines their links to WtE. It then discusses the challenges to the overall framework regulating WtE.

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... The dual purpose of WtE (where EU waste policy coincides with energy policy) has already been addressed by several scholars (Talus, 2016) (Reins, 2016) (Stengler, 2016). The paper, however, argues that dual purpose of WtE is no longer sustainable. ...
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This paper explores the multi-purpose nature of Waste-to-Energy (WtE), which adheres to three different policies in the EU: 1) waste management; 2) energy union; 3) air quality/climate change. While WtE is subject to different EU policies and must comply with different sets of EU regulatory frameworks, the policies are largely intertwined and share common objectives enabling the achievement of a sustainable European future via the circular economy. With support from the theoretical foundation for the potential to unite climate, energy, and environmental justice, the paper calls for a streamlined policy in the context of WtE. The paper also highlights the value of this linkage from a practical perspective illustrating how these different policies could be bridged through the new technology - the patented micro-scale Home Energy Recovery Unit (HERU), which has been invented to process all unwanted domestic materials and generate energy for the household.
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