14 Nov 2023, 13:49
Jack McGovan

Waste incineration has no place in Germany’s renewable heating plans – NGOs

Clean Energy Wire

German environmental associations say that heat generated by waste incineration cannot be labeled as renewable energy, a classification which could be enshrined in law as part of the government’s current draft of the Heat Planning Act. The act, due for a second reading on November 17th, aims to decarbonise the heating sector. NGOs Environmental Action Germany (DUH), the German Association for Nature Conservation (Nabu) and the Federal Association for Environmental Consulting (bfub) say, however, that equating waste incineration with renewable energy will result in more damage to the environment. “If waste incineration was classified as renewable in the Heat Planning Act, the absurd situation would arise in which municipalities become climate-neutral on paper, but in reality continue to emit avoidable CO2,” said Leif Miller, managing director of Nabu. Aside from emitting CO2, the associations say that burning waste leads to pollution and the destruction of vital resources.

“According to the logic of the current draft heat planning law, waste is considered renewable and the more of it that is burned, the better. This completely undermines the top level of the legally established waste hierarchy: prevention,” said Barbara Metz, managing director of DUH. Heat generated from waste incineration should be reined in, and there should be a focus on waste avoidance, reuse and recycling, the associations said. The deadline for municipalities to come up with heating plans for the future, as part of the act, is mid-2026 to mid-2028, depending on their population size. Originally, municipalities were expected to reach 50 percent renewables by 2030, but that goal has now been reduced to 30 percent by 2035 in some cases.

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