Europe is still struggling with the issue of residual waste, however carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology may prove to be a viable solution for it.
In 2018, roughly half of the two billion tonnes of treated waste in the EU was sent to landfills, where it releases harmful greenhouse gas emissions, predominantly methane.
To help solve the problem, in 2020, the European Commission came forward with a circular economy action plan, the aim of which is to reduce the amount of garbage and promote recycling.
However, there are still many obstacles on the way to a fully circular economy in Europe, as many materials can be neither recycled nor reused. One reason is that some many contain substances that could contaminate other materials.
And the options for such materials have so far been landfills or being shipped abroad.
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Both of these options are highly undesirable, which has left policy makers to introduce burning the residual waste in specialized waste-to-energy plants. This allows for the waste to be disposed of, while producing energy and also often recovering materials, such as metals.
And while burning garbage is certainly thought of as a more environmentally-friendly solution, it results in greenhouse gas emissions that have caused the climate crisis.
Hence, the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in such plants in Europe could help tackle the waste problem without further harming the climate.
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Waste -to-energy plants can continue incinerating residual garbage, whereas the captured CO2 emissions can be transported and stored deep underground.
Carbon capture is still in its early stages of development as a technology, however more and more efforts are being focused on accelerating it and making it available at scale.
Currently, there is a pilot project being set up in a waste-to-energy plant in Norway and it is expected to become operational by 2025.