Gorka Bueno


The full report is available in PDF format through this link.

The documentary support of the report (documents, data records, calculations) is accessible through links embedded in the text of the report.

The waste incineration plant in Zubieta has not been classified as an energy recovery facility

After accessing all the documents available to the administration, we are in a position to affirm that the managers of the Zubieta incinerator have not complied with the obligation to submit an externally accredited report, indicating the energy efficiency value for each incineration line together with the calculation made, following the indications established in the guide published by the European Commission, and the additional information necessary for its verification. As a consequence of the above, the competent body (the Vice-Ministry of Environmental Sustainability of the Basque Government) has not been able to verify this calculation nor has it notified the facility of the energy efficiency value and its classification as a waste to energy recovery operation (R1). The facility has not been classified as a waste to energy recovery operation (R1).

This circumstance affects the validity of its environmental authorization. The Integrated Environmental Authorization (IEA), incorporates in a single authorization different authorizations (for disposals, waste treatment, or the environmental authorization to operate the facility), under certain conditions aimed at guaranteeing that it complies with the purpose and provisions of the Law on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control. Article 27 of Law 22/2011 on waste and contaminated soils (now repealed and replaced by Law 7/2022 on waste and contaminated soils for a circular economy) regulates the Authorization of waste treatment operations. These authorizations must have the content described in Annex VII of the Law. The treatment operations to be authorized are identified according to the codes listed in Annexes I and II (D10 in the case of incineration, R1 in the case of incineration with energy recovery of waste). The aforementioned art. 27, section 5, d) conditions these authorizations to the necessary verifications that the incineration operations with energy recovery are carried out with a minimum level of energy efficiency.

In this way, as provided for in section 7 of art. 27 of the Waste Act and art. 22. 1 g) of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Act (RDL 1/2016), the waste treatment authorization is integrated in the integrated environmental authorization as well as “any measure or condition established by the applicable sectorial legislation. In particular, those that could be established in application of Article 27 of Law 22/2011, of July 28, for facilities in which one or more waste treatment operations are carried out.”

If the validity of the IEA is conditioned to the fulfillment of the energy efficiency verification and its declaration, the consequence of its lack is the loss of validity or its expiration.

This work is the result of the collaboration between ekopol and the legal team of the citizen association GuraSOS.