Climate impact of waste processing routes in the Netherlands. CO2 emission factors for recycling and incineration for 13 waste flows

This study, commissioned by the Royal Dutch Waste Management Association (NVRD), reviews the climate impact of waste incineration and recycling in the Netherlands. The results can be used by local, regional and national policymakers for environmental calculations in the context of the VANG household waste programme and for indicative estimates of changes in climate impact due to increased or reduced recycling. The results yield insight into both the climate impact of recycling and incineration (emissions) and the climate impact prevented (avoided emissions due to production of useful materials and power generation).

Data was collated from earlier CE Delft analyses and other sources of environmental data on incineration and recycling, supplemented to a limited degree by new, generally recent information requested from Dutch processors. Where several recycling routes were available, as with plastics and greenwaste, a weighted average was calculated or the most commonly used route adopted.

The results will not be a perfect reflection of reality. The actual situation at municipal level may vary. Power generating efficiency differs from incinerator to incinerator, possibly skewing the climate impact considerably. Individual recyclers may also have a different environmental profile, if they make major use of autogenerated renewable energy, for example, if there is more or less loss of material, or if they upgrade the material to a specific quality of end-product.

Thirteen material flows were analysed: paper/cardboard, plastics, glass, beverage cartons, metal packaging, stony material, textiles, wood waste, greenwaste, bulky garden waste, cooking fat/oil, nappies/incontinence pads and waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE). In a separate chapter devoted to each, the results are reported and discussing in detail, and the methodology and sources justified.