IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

10.5.2 Incineration and other thermal processes for waste-to-energy

Thermal processes can efficiently exploit the energy value of post-consumer waste, but the high cost of incineration with emission controls restricts its sustainable application in many developing countries. Subsidies for construction of incinerators have been implemented in several countries, usually combined with standards for energy efficiency (Austrian Federal Government, 2001; Government of Japan, 1997). Tax exemptions for electricity generated by waste incinerators (Government of the Netherlands, 2001) and for waste disposal with energy recovery (Government of Norway, 2002) have been adopted. In Sweden, it has been illegal to landfill pre-sorted combustible waste since 2002 (Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, 2005). Landfill taxes have also been implemented in a number of EU countries to elevate the cost of landfilling to encourage more costly alternatives (incineration, industrial co-combustion, MBT). In the UK, the landfill tax has also been used as a funding mechanism for environmental and community projects, as discussed by Morris et al. (2000) and Grigg and Read (2001).

10.5.3 Waste minimization, re-use and recycling

Widely implemented policies include Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), unit pricing (or PAYT/Pay As You Throw) and landfill taxes. Waste reduction can also be promoted by recycling programmes, waste minimization and other measures (Miranda et al., 1994; Fullerton and Kinnaman, 1996). The EPR regulations extend producer responsibility to the post-consumer period, thus providing a strong incentive to redesign products using fewer materials as well as those with increased recycling potential (OECD, 2001). Initially, EPR programmes were reported to be expensive (Hanisch, 2000), but the EPR concept is very broad: a number of successful schemes have been implemented in various countries for diverse waste fractions such as packaging waste, old vehicles and electronic equipment. EPR programmes range in complexity and cost, but waste reductions have been reported in many countries and regions. In Germany, the 1994 Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act, other laws and voluntary agreements have restructured waste management over the past 15 years (Giegrich and Vogt, 2005).

Unit pricing has been widely adopted to decrease landfilled waste and increase recycling (Miranda et al., 1996). Some municipalities have reported a secondary increase in waste generation after an initial decrease following implementation of unit pricing, but the ten-year sustainability of these programmes has been demonstrated (Yamakawa and Ueta, 2002).

Separate and efficient collection of recyclable materials is needed with both PAYT and landfill tax systems. For kerbside programmes, the percentage recycled is related to the efficiency of kerbside collection and the duration of the programme (Jenkins et al., 2003). Other policies and measures include local subsidies and educational programmes for collection of recyclables, domestic composting of biodegradable waste and procurement of recycled products (green procurement). In the US, for example, 21 states have requirements for separate collection of garden (green) waste, which is diverted to composting or used as an alternative daily cover on landfills.