The European Commission has published new guidance on the production of energy from waste as part of the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy, which encourages manufacturers and consumers to get the maximum value and use from all raw materials, products and waste. This guidance emphasises that generating energy from waste that cannot be recycled or reused can contribute to a circular economy and energy diversification. Improving the efficiency of this process will help to increase energy production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector.
Waste hierarchy used in the Action Plan for the Circular Economy shows that recovering energy from waste (e.g. by incinerating it) conserves more energy and results in fewer emissions than discarding waste as landfill. The new guidance therefore urges EU countries that currently discard a lot of waste as landfill to generate energy from some of it instead, e.g. by anaerobic digestion (a process that converts agricultural or urban organic waste to biogas that can be used as fuel for transport and also for heat and power generation). In addition, Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme, and the European Fund for Strategic Investments can provide funding for research into more efficient ways of producing energy from waste. This will help countries to make the transition to a more circular economy.