Prague, 22 September 2022 - Representatives of industry, waste management, ministries, Czech and European legislators gathered at an international conference in Prague. "The waste recovery segment offers many solutions in today's crisis. But it is necessary toreduce the still massive landfilling and to set a clear and long-term stable framework and conditions for investments in recycling and energy recovery of waste," said Michal Stieber from the Czech Association of Circular Economy (ČAObH), which organized the conference together with the European Association of Waste Management Companies (FEAD), at the very beginning of the international conference.
The conference under the auspices of the Minister for European Affairs of the Czech Republic, Mikuláš Bek, showed in the contributions of speakers and discussions of panellists how different worlds the ambitious, but above all unconceptual, climate goals on the one hand and the current economic and energy crisis on the other come from. From the world before the war in Ukraine, and after it broke out. In the three blocks Energy, Recycling and Economy & Climate, the conference brought many logical solutions in the field of waste recovery, recycling and energy savings. At the same time, it was made clear that climate protection cannot be abandoned under any circumstances.
"It is not possible that after the recent passage of the modern "anti-fracking" waste law we will paradoxically witness massive dumping of usable raw materials in landfills. Right now, in the current crisis, when we are instead supposed to use these raw materials allthe more," Michal Stieber criticized the still thriving landfill business.
Main conclusions of the conference by thematic blocks
Where mechanical, material recycling is not profitable in the current conditions, let's use separated waste suitable for energy recovery as a good alternative to scarce imported energy raw materials. In his video contribution, MEP Alexander Vondra explains why waste-to-energy facilities should not be included in the European Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Energy recovery of waste that cannot be used in any other way is better than dumping waste in landfills where it becomes a source of greenhouse gases.
"Chemical recycling is not intended to replace mechanical recycling. However, it can perfectly complement it and thus increase the overall recycling rate," said Martin Růžička from the Unipetrol Group in his presentation.
Unfortunately, current economic developments are leading to a future reduction in separate collection and recycling of raw materials, and this must be prevented. The limits of mechanical recycling are mainly due to the complexity of the materials to be recycled. Chemical recycling may therefore be the solution. In the field of recycling, and especially in today's crisis, it is necessary to compare the economic and environmental benefits.
At the same time, European Commission representative Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea mentioned that a comparison of how member states are meeting existing recycling targets will be made by the end of the year. He expressed concern that not all of them are reaching the targets currently set. He therefore considers it more important that EU countries reach the targets set, rather than debating whether to increase them.
Economy & Climate
Trade and industrial waste must be included in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from waste management. By managing these wastes wisely, we will achieve much greater savings in greenhouse gas emissions than simply changing technology for municipal waste. The recommendations from the experts' discussion are clear: the way to achieve the objectives of the circular economy in the current crisis is not through penalising waste-to-energy facilities. On the contrary, cogeneration can contribute to ensuring our greater energy security!
Holding the conference in the capital of the Czech Republic, currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU, had the advantage of drawing attention to the significant differences between the technical equipment for waste treatment of Western European member states and the situation in the Czech Republic and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as to the risks arising from the often controversial actions of the EU administration, which reduce the credibility of efforts to save the climate system of the planet Earth (the promotion of SUP in the current situation has given us all the red noses of buffoons). The only thing that will help is to use common sense.
RNDr. Miloš Kužvart
Executive Director of the CAObH