More waste transports to be handled by rail in future

The amendment to the Waste Management Act was passed in the Austrian Parliament.

Rail freight transport is the only chance for sustainable land transport in the next ten to fifteen years. This also applies to the environmentally friendly transport of waste, such as excavated material, construction and demolition waste, household waste, as well as ash and slag. ÖBB Rail Cargo Group (RCG) already has many years of expertise in waste management.
The Austrian Parliament has now passed an amendment of the Waste Management Act. This is an important milestone for freight transport operators. Specifically, it was decided that transports of waste with a total weight of more than ten tonnes and above a certain transport distance should be carried out by rail – or by other alternatives with equivalent or lower pollutant or greenhouse gas potential. From 2023 onwards, this will apply to distances of 300 km or more, in 2024 from 200 km, and from 2026 for distances from 100 km.

Shift potential for waste transports

The total amount of waste generated in Austria was around 72 million tonnes in 2019. Due to their characteristics, many of these waste types would be particularly suitable for transport by rail. Yet around 80 percent of this waste, which is particularly suitable for rail transport, are still transported by road. There is a lot of potential here for shifting transport to rail and thus for an immediate reduction in CO2, fine dust and road noise in Austria. After all, every transport by rail makes a significant contribution to environmental protection, is 40 times more climate-friendly than a transport by truck and causes less than a third of external costs compared to road freight transport.

Waste disposal at the RCG