Court awaits ruling on waste incineration classification

Waste incinerators should be classified as waste disposal rather than energy recovery, an advocate general has told the European Court of Justice. If the court rules in favour of the opinion, waste companies could find it tougher to ship waste across Europe for the purpose of incineration.

EDIE reports that Advocate-general Francis Jacobs delivered his opinion on the blocking of a municipal waste shipment by Luxembourg authorities. The waste, intended for an incinerator in France, was being disposed of rather than used for energy recovery, said the authorities, and should therefore be sent to a Luxembourg incinerator under the proximity rule governing waste disposal.

The shipment was described by the waste company as being part of a ‘recovery’ process, but was then reclassified by the Luxembourg authorities as ‘disposal’ on the grounds that the principle of a waste incinerator was to dispose of waste. The European Commission intervened, calling for a clarification on whether the incinerator generated energy and could reclaim it.

The case was taken to the European Court of Justice, where Jacobs recommended that the Court dismiss the Commission’s request for clarification. The advocate general argued that an incineration operation should not fall within the description of energy recovery “unless its objective is the use of waste principally as a fuel” such as incinerators used in cement kilns or manufacturing plants. The Commission was merely seeking clarification on the energy potential of the waste, whereas Jacobs argued that “the definition of a recovery operation is based on the criterion of use and hence of the objective of the operation.”

Jacobs strengthened his argument in a further opinion delivered on a German case regarding waste shipment to a cement factory. “The energy generated by the incineration is to be used in the manufacturing process where it will replace conventional fuel,” said Jacob. “If the waste were not available for a given operation, the factory would still operate using other fuel.” In the Luxembourg case, on the other hand, the waste incinerator was designed solely to deal with waste, and would not otherwise exist.

Ano da Publicação: 2002
Fonte: Warmer Bulletin Enews #37-2002
Autor: Kit Strange, Warmer Bulletin
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