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18. May 2022

Strengthening closed loop recycling management could save up to 150 million tonnes of CO2eq by 2035

A new study demonstrates the importance and potential of closed loop recycling management for reducing CO2 emissions. The Bundesverband der Deutschen Entsorgungs-, Wasser- und Rohstoffwirtschaft e. V. (BDE, or National Association of the German Disposal, Water and Raw Materials Sectors) presented a study carried out by the agencies Prognos and CE DELFT and pointed to the central role of closed loop recycling management in meeting the targets set by the Paris climate accords. Initially, the study was commissioned by four European waste sector associations – the European Waste Management Association (FEAD), the Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants (CEWEP), the RDF Industry Group and the Dutch Waste Management Association (DWMA).

This investigation was conceived as a study of potential, whose report is based on some premises and statements about the Co2 saving effect produced by closed loop recycling management for up to 20 years. The study refers to the targets the EU has set itself of reaching a recycling rate of 65 per cent and an upper limit of municipal waste landfill of 10 per cent at most. On this basis, the study used a conservative calculation to identify that more use of closed loop recycling management could achieve annual savings of 150 million tonnes of COeq in the EU by 2035.

The researchers used two potential calculations to set the savings by 2035. All the important types of waste were considered in the process: paper, glass, plastics, ferrous metals, aluminium, wood, textiles, old tyres, organic waste and residual waste. One additional pre-condition for the calculations was the net CO2 emissions of the waste flows detailed above, which amounted to 13 million tonnes of COeq in 2018.

The first projection assumes consistent application of the current legal regulations for municipal waste and the retention of the same recycling and landfill targets for industrial and commercial waste in EU countries and the UK until 2035. This results in a reduction of net CO2 emissions from these areas of 137 million tonnes of COeq, which means a saving of 150 million tonnes of COeq.

The assumptions made for the second projection include even more ambitious recycling targets, a significant rethink in society and also technical innovations, which would release further additional potential COsavings. This results in an annual reduction of 283 million tonnes of net COeq emissions, which would lead to savings of 296 million tonnes of COeq.

No matter which calculation of the potential is used, the statement remains the same. Closed loop recycling management can make a huge contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. Particularly against the background that the current coalition agreement of the German government dedicates a separate chapter to closed loop recycling management, politicians must support these actions with further legal regulations – in Germany and the EU. Increasing the separated collection of raw materials, raising the recycling rate for all raw materials and strengthening recycling considerations in design are just some of the pressing projects.

You can read the complete study here .