Greenpeace blocks waste-based fuel shipment

NGO claims increasing intra-EU trade in waste for incineration undermines prevention, recycling

A ship carrying refuse-derived fuel (RDF) pellets from the Netherlands to Sweden has been prevented from docking by Greenpeace, in support of its long-running campaign against waste incineration. The group claims that intra-EU trade in combustible waste is mushrooming, undermining efforts to increase recycling and causing toxic emissions from waste incinerators.

The group announced on Monday that it had blockaded the RMS Aries just outside the port of Soedertaelje, southern Sweden. Yesterday it claimed confirmation from Swedish and Dutch authorities that no import or export licences had been granted, meaning the shipment was illegal. A spokesperson for Icova, the shipment's owner, denied this today, saying that an export licence had been sent to the Swedish authorities yesterday.

According to Greenpeace, Dutch exports of combustible waste have doubled every year in the last four. Meanwhile, it says, Swedish imports of waste for incineration have boomed, rising from 53,000 tonnes in 1996 to 110,000 tonnes in 1998. Swedish waste firms had applied to import nearly 340,000 tonnes since December 1999, it added.

Icova denied that intra-EU shipments of RDF was a "dirty trade" as claimed by Greenpeace. The material was a fuel and not a waste, a spokesperson insisted, and its trade perfectly legal under EU law. EU business association Assurre, which promotes resource use from waste, echoed Icova's message. The constituents of RDF were "already lost to the recycling stream" because they were fragmented and mixed, a spokesperson said. The cost of sorting and recycling the materials instead would be prohibitive, he added.

Follow Up:
Greenpeace Nordic, tel: +31 20 524 9559, and press release; Icova, tel: +31 20 447 6666; Assurre, tel: +32 2 772 5252.

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