Waste to Energy is on the Rise.
Waste to Energy is becoming more and more popular and has even been touted as a potential game-changer in the fightback against plastic. This week at ReGen, we explore what is making this method of waste management so popular.
What is waste-to-energy?
Often abbreviated to WTE, waste-to-energy is a means of creating electricity, heat or even fuel from waste. The conversion occurs when waste, that has been diverted from landfill, is heated in purpose-built incinerators. Classed as a form of waste-recovery, WTE's origins can be traced back to the late 19th Century. The first purpose-built waste incinerator was produced in 1874 in the UK and the practice later surfaced on mainland Europe in Denmark.
Since these early 'destructors' the process has undergone huge technological changes. Today waste can be subjected to gasification, pyrolysis and fermentation producing biofuels, synthetic fuels and hydrogen. For the first time in 2012, the European Union began measuring the output of WTE and 2018 has been the most productive year to date.
At present, the EU has an ongoing goal of deriving 20% of energy from renewable sources. Alongside other Waste management strategies, people have begun integrating and investing in modern waste-to-energy technology. Adopting WTE also has a huge role to play in diverting waste from landfills, an issue facing many countries across the globe. There's no doubt more governments are taking note of the process and beginning to add it to their waste management bow.
At a recent conference in Bilbao on creating a circular economy, European Commission member, William Neale said, "Waste-to-Energy has a role to play in an integrated waste management system". While it's important to understand how WTE can help countries reach recycling targets, it has other long-term benefits. WTE has recently been trialled as a solution to ocean waste and other plastic-related problems.
WTE Vs Plastic
In a country renowned for their recycling expertise, Waste to Energy is used to manage 50% of Swedish waste. The results are staggering, the Scandinavian nation now sends an estimated <1% of their waste to landfill. The energy produced at Sweden's 34 WTE plants is used to power homes and factories and produce biogas for cars, buses and taxis. Other nations have begun asking if the practice could have other benefits.
Some G7 countries are planning to adopt the practice in the fight against waste plastic. The problem has come to the fore in 2018 and many governments are beginning to react. Canada has become the latest country to consider combining WTE as part of their plastic strategy. Their plan is to 'recover' the material by producing energy or fuels.
Future of WTE
Since its inception, WTE has changed drastically and it has become a greener alternative to landfill and similar practices. With its growth in Europe and now the Americas, it is expected to become more sophisticated than ever.
At ReGen we use intelligent techniques to produce Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) that generates electricity for homes across Europe. RDF is made from waste that does not quickly biodegrade, nor is it recyclable. Through clever sorting techniques at our plant, we can help reduce the 27 million tonnes of that households send to landfill each year. To learn more on how our WTE process works, click here.