Sustainable finance essential for Covid-19 recovery

Zero Waste Europe has released a report that highlights the potential contribution of sustainable finance in the recovery from Covid-19.

Sustainable Finance for a Zero Waste Circular Economy describes a lack of clarity in the current Zero Waste Circular Economy (ZWCE), which is often taken over by commercial interests.

EU flags in BrusselsIt lays out specific steps that should be prioritised in the EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy through a ZWCE that has the potential for social, economic and environmental benefits.

The proposed framework includes a Green Bond Standard, corporate disclosure of climate-related data and the ultimate goal of scaling up to be an international platform on sustainable finance.

It also explicitly criticises the proposed role of Energy-from-Waste (EfW) incineration – such as Chemical Recycling and incineration of Refuse-Derived Fuel in cement plants – in the circular economy, calling it ‘counterproductive’ and advising that it is left out of the recovery plan altogether.

Neil Tangri, Science and Policy Director at the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), said: “While the EU is showing positive leadership at the regional level, it is yet to be seen how this positive trend can benefit other regions in the world.

“Sustainable finance has an opportunity to demonstrate that double standards are not acceptable, and that the EU can walk the talk at international level in the same way that it does at home. Ultimately, the EU can play a visionary role by encouraging other International Financial Institutions and aid agencies to meet Zero Waste Circular Economy standards.”

Mariel Vilella, Director of Global Strategy at Zero Waste Europe, added: “Zero Waste Circular Economy is a solid investment for sustainable finance. The ZWCE offers investment opportunities that are good for our society, the environment, the economy and, in particular, the post-COVID-19 recovery.

“New zero waste business models and zero waste public initiatives show that investing in the upper tiers of the waste hierarchy – waste prevention, redesign, reuse, recycling, and composting – offers a much bigger return in job creation, economic recovery, and resilience than conventional end-of-pipe industrial alternatives while driving the sustainability agenda and delivering a net reduction of GHG emissions and air pollution. Giving these solutions the support they deserve can be a game-changer for the sustainable finance world.”

The condemnation of EfW is prominent within Zero Waste organisations, with Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) raising awareness of its risks in October with a report that stated that EfW was potentially more damaging than landfill.

The EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy deal last year called for incineration to be minimised and purposely left EfW off its list of activities that advance climate change mitigation.

September saw the Zero Carbon Campaign release a white paper that asked for the UK Government’s landfill tax to extend to include EfW emissions.

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