Building trust in a circular economy

How to build trust in the circular economy?

It is critically important that consumers trust the materials and products coming from recycling. Therefore, it is imperative that specialist facilities work towards a non-toxic environment, avoiding the dispersion of pollutants in materials and the environment, by making use of the characteristics of hazardous waste incineration. 

EURITS promotes three key principles:

  • No dilution of hazardous waste and substances of concern
  • Dedicated incineration of hazardous waste to destroy pollutants
  • Decontamination, which is part of the solution to achieve non-toxic material cycles 

Key principle #1: Decontamination to achieve non-toxic material cycles

  • Non-toxic material cycles require that substances of concern are identified and managed in compliance with the relevant legislation.
  • Hazardous substances or pollutants present in waste should be extracted prior to recycling or recovery operations and adequately disposed of to avoid continuous contamination of the recycling loop.
  • This principle of decontamination is recognised in the revised Waste Framework Directive and will undoubtedly enhance high-quality recycling and provide reassurance about secondary raw materials.

Decontamination, with appropriate tracking of substances of concern (SoCs), should be at the heart of the discussions on the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation, in order to protect health and the environment and to prevent low-quality recycling.


Key principle #2: Dilution is no solution

  • Dilution aims at mixing the waste with other categories of hazardous waste or with other types of waste to lower the initial concentrations of hazardous substances usually done to meet: the Landfill Directive Waste Acceptance Criteria; the acceptance restrictions of a facility; or to comply with emission limit values.
  • Dilution does not reduce the toxicity of hazardous waste. Diluted waste will not receive the right treatment in an appropriate facility experienced in reacting to any risk associated with those specific substances. The hazardous substances will continue to be dispersed into the environment or within the recycled materials and endanger both health and the environment.

Non-dilution should be a key principle to prevent low quality treatment and contamination of household recyclates

Key principle #3: Dedicated hazardous waste incineration is a complementary and essential operation to achieve a sustainable circular economy

  • Dedicated hazardous waste incineration can destroy hazardous components and contaminants using best available techniques with strict control and monitoring of emissions.
  • It is an essential tool for high-quality recycling to provide final treatment solutions for hazardous substances extracted as part of decontamination.
  • Moreover, it also enables other industries to function properly by providing adequate treatments for their special wastes whose hazardous properties require incineration to remove their risk to society and the environment.

The legislative framework specific for hazardous waste incineration should be acknowledged in the revision of the Industrial Emission Directive (2010/75/EU).


What can Members of the EU Parliament do to help achieve a circular economy?

MEPs can help by making sure that the new regulations in the Circular Economy package are fully implemented in each EU Member State.

From traceability, control, responsibility, labelling or mixing ban, EU provisions dealing with hazardous waste aim to ensure a safe and controlled framework for hazardous waste proportionate to their potential risks. Because hazardous waste management needs stricter requirements, Member States must improve the application and enforcement of key provisions for hazardous waste incineration into their national laws.