- A new report, developed by Eunomia on behalf of Zero Waste Europe, said the benefits of solid waste management are obscured by misleading UN reporting, which may persuade governments and international bodies to overlook the potential of improved waste management protocol to reduce emissions.
- Eunomia’s analysis identifies two main issues tied to the UN reporting: First, the data do not show emissions from incineration plants that generate energy. Eunomia points out that reduced emissions from landfilling are offset by a rapid increase in incineration. Second, the UN reporting understates the role of recycling and waste prevention in reducing emissions from waste.
- Among other specific criticisms were that the way the data was reported supports a greater focus on diverting biodegradable material from landfill rather than on benefits of better managing materials such as plastics and glass.
How data is reported can paint radically different pictures, influencing policy makers as they form their opinions and make decisions accordingly about such hot points as the cost and benefits of recycling and benefits versus risks of incineration.
Eunomia’s Chairman, Dominic Hogg, said, "The way the UN measures climate change impacts has a significant impact on the choices that waste managers around the world are making. That’s why it’s important that the ‘waste’ section of the inventory reflects the whole climate change impact of waste, which would highlight the critical importance of recycling, not to mention, waste prevention."
Mariel Vilella, Zero Waste Europe’s Associate Director said: "For far too long the climate impact of waste management has been overlooked. Now it’s clear that waste prevention, reuse and recycling are climate change solutions that need to be fully integrated into a low carbon economy. Both at the EU and international level, it is time to shift climate finance support to these climate-friendly options instead of waste incineration, which in fact contributes to climate change and displaces livelihoods of recyclers worldwide."