UK Waste Incineration Plants to Enter Carbon ETS in 2028

Waste to energy plant

In a significant step towards a greener and more sustainable future, the UK Government has announced that waste incineration plants will be included in the country’s Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) starting in 2028.

Under this scheme, large industrial emitters of CO2 from burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas, have been required to purchase permits to release CO2 from a limited pool allocated each year, effectively acting as a carbon tax.

The extension of the ETS to waste incinerators comes as a response to the substantial amount of CO2 emissions released during the incineration process, particularly from burning plastic derived from oil and gas.

It’s important to note that CO2 emissions from burning paper and wood will not be covered under the scheme.

However, this move is expected to play a crucial role in aligning the waste and recycling industry with the UK’s net zero targets and accelerating the country’s transition to a more sustainable economy.

sustainable carbon emissions scale

At present carbon permit prices and considering today’s typical waste composition, this change is estimated to add approximately £3-£3.50 per 1100 general waste bin collection.

Given that permit prices are likely to increase by 2028, the overall cost is expected to be higher.

Importantly, this extension of the scheme will not impact the costs of recycling, thereby encouraging individuals and businesses to prioritise recycling over waste incineration.

By making waste incineration more expensive through the ETS, the UK Government aims to create a strong incentive for people to recycle more actively.

This move is a step in the right direction as it encourages individuals, businesses, and local governments to adopt effective recycling schemes, thereby reducing waste sent for incineration and lowering overall CO2 emissions.

While this change will undoubtedly impact everyone, its effect will be less significant on entities that have already implemented successful recycling schemes.

By recognising and rewarding these initiatives, the UK Government promotes sustainable practices and encourages others to follow suit.

The decision to include waste incineration in the ETS from 2028 is a result of a comprehensive consultation process.

It demonstrates the UK Government’s commitment to achieving a balanced and fair transition to a low-carbon economy.

The consultation process aimed to consider the potential impact on all stakeholders across the waste value chain, including local governments, waste producers, and the general public.

In the years leading up to 2028, the UK Government will focus on exploring the exact policy design for incorporating waste incineration plants into the ETS.

This thorough approach ensures that all implications are considered and that the change will be implemented effectively and efficiently.

The inclusion of waste incineration plants in the ETS represents a significant milestone in the UK’s journey towards a greener future.

By driving up the cost of waste incineration and motivating recycling efforts, the Government hopes to reduce CO2 emissions and contribute to the country’s ambitious net-zero targets.

The UK’s decision to bring waste incineration plants under the Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme from 2028 is a positive step forward in promoting recycling and sustainability.

By imposing a cost on incineration, the Government aims to encourage greater recycling efforts and push the nation towards a more environmentally responsible and low-carbon future.

As businesses and individuals adapt to this change, collaboration and innovation will be essential in achieving the UK’s net zero targets and creating a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable environment for future generations.

About the author

Steve Traviss Waste Managed headshot

Steve Traviss

Procurement & Sustainability Officer

Steve Traviss is MCIPS Chartered and is extremely passionate about the environment and corporate responsibility when it comes to sustainable waste disposal practices. Steve truly embodies everything we stand for at Waste Managed and in 2022, Steve took part in a world record scuba beach clean up in Thailand which we’re incredibly proud of him for. Steve researches and writes a lot of our blog content on our website and draws off of a wealth of experience in the waste management industry and knowledge of UK environmental legislation.

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