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ENVIRONMENT

Danish waste company forced to import rubbish from abroad

The high-tech Amager Bakke waste-to-energy plant is running out of rubbish supplies from the local region and will have to start importing from outside Denmark. 

Refshaleøen oversigt, Amager Bakke, Copenhill.
Refshaleøen oversigt, Amager Bakke, Copenhill. Photo: Mathias Eis/Ritzau Scanpix

When ARC’s incinerator, Amager Bakke, opened in March 2017, it was one of the most modern green energy plants Denmark had ever seen.

The high-tech waste plant is designed to destroy huge amounts of trash from Copenhagen and convert it into energy which is used to heat thousands of homes in the region. It is one of two plants which play a major role in Copenhagen’s ambitions of meeting zero carbon requirements by 2025.

But now, ironically, as municipalities have become very efficient in waste sorting and recycling, the plant is quickly running out of its most important raw material: rubbish.

This has impacted the plant’s finances, so now the five municipalities behind ARC have agreed on a plan that will both improve the economy and provide heat for the capital’s homes: waste from surrounding countries will be shipped to Denmark and burned at the Amager Bakke plant.

READ ALSO: EU countries need better recycling, Copenhagen agency finds

Until now, the owner municipalities had blocked ARC’s ability to source waste through imports, but the agreement provides a waiver to allow imports to be increased until the end of 2025 to keep the furnaces running. 

In a press release, the five owner municipalities state that the increased imports will also increase CO2 emissions – but: “The alternative is that the municipalities will have to recycle less waste, that ARC’s finances will be worse – and even that there may be a need to import gas, which comes from Russia, among other places.”

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WILDFIRES

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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