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Enhanced waste-management practices reduce carbon emissions and support lower landfill taxes

July 1, 2016

Enhanced waste-management practices reduce carbon emissions and support lower landfill taxes

Landfills are the oldest form of waste management, but have a large environmental impact. In the EU, landfilling is now a last resort for waste management and strictly limited, and any waste that has to be landfilled must be sent to sites that comply with the Directive on the landfill of waste.

One way to reduce the environmental effects of landfills is to impose a tax on their use. Landfill taxes are a form of sustainable materials management — which is a component of the EU’s flagship initiative to achieve resource efficiency by 2020. Another form of sustainable materials management is ‘Enhanced Waste Management’ (EWM), which aims to process waste into useful products. This is a relatively new concept in Europe and not yet part of the Waste Framework Directive.

Both mechanisms could provide environmental and economic benefits, but they can be difficult to balance. This is because high landfill taxes can reduce the incentive for EWM, as taxation reduces the amount of landfilled material available for conversion into useful products and mitigates the issue of scarce landfill space — thus making EWM less necessary. Likewise, as EWM reduces the amount of waste that is permanently landfilled, it also reduces the landfill scarcity issue, making landfill taxes more ‘redundant’ (because it postpones the point of landfill capacity exhaustion), the researchers assert. EWM could thus reduce the necessity of landfill taxes, contribute to a circular economy and have environmental benefits.

Read more at "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service, edited by SCU, The University of the West of England, Bristol.

01 July 2016
Issue 461

category : Topics


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