European Union Directive 2008/98/EC outlines hierarchy of steps in which waste handling should occur. It suggests that waste prevention should be a top priority followed by re-use and recycling of materials. However in modern, demand and profit driven society this tactic has very small chance of success, certainly in terms of reducing and reusing. As a result generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) is projected to rise by further 2020 by 16% in EU-27, with 80% produced in the EU-15 (which includes UK) (Skovgaard et al., 2008). This implies that “The 3 R’s” strategy fails to deliver its key objective – waste reduction.
Thus attention should also focus on options that could help to reduce waste accumulation rather than just prevention. One of the most successful strategies to decrease landfill waste is to divert it to Waste to Energy (WtE) facilities. The most popular form of energy recovery from waste, for technical and economical reason, is Waste to Energy Incineration (WtEI). It raises a lot of controversy, mainly because it is associated with technologies from the past, when air pollution controls did not exist. This resulted in significant environmental degradation and heath issues. Understandably, this has left a bad image of incineration. Modern incinerators however emit less than 10% of pollutants than their counterparts 25 years ago (DEFRA, 2013). Technology has the potential to play a significant role as part of waste management strategy but equally important as constituent of balanced energy mix. This essay presents available evidence which sheds new light on Waste to Energy Incineration, highlighting its impact on environment, energy security and human health.
In 2011 waste management contributed 17.3 MtCO2e (3.1...
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...te Management 29, 1718–1724
Shalunenko, N., I.,Korolyuk, T., A., 2012. Construction glass material based on ash from waste incineration plants. Glass and Ceramics, Vol. 69, Nos. 11 – 12, March, 2013
Skovgaard, M., Hedal, N., Villanueva, A., Andersen, F., M., Larsen, H., 2008. Municipal waste management
and greenhouse gases. ETC/RWM working paper 2008/1 Available at: http://scp.eionet.europa.eu/publications/wp2008_1/wp/wp1_2008 Accessed on: 4th December 2013
Tabasová, A., Kropác, J., Kermes, V., Nemet, A., Stehlík, P., 2012. Waste-to-energy technologies: Impact on environment. Energy 44, 146-155
UK biomass strategy, 2007. Working Paper 1 – economic analysis of biomass energy. Energy Technologies Unit Department of Trade and Industry. Available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dti.gov.uk/files/file39040.pdf Accessed on: 24th November 2013
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