HOT|COOL NO.3/2021 - "Don't waste it!"

Waste-to-Energy A Solution for the World’s 2-Billion-Ton Trash Problem

At a modern waste cogeneration plant, the energy in the non-recyclable waste is utilized while protecting the environment. Spreading the modern incineration method globally, hence waste not thrown in a landfill, will represent a global environmental and climate quantum leap.

By Henrik Søndergaard, editor at DBDH

of all plastic waste ever produced HAS BEEN RECYCLED 9%



of all plastic waste is sent to LANDFILLS, DUMPS OR IN NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

of all plastic waste has been INCINERATED

through controlled composting of organic waste, expanded sanitation coverage, and state-of-the-art incineration.

Today, merely 19% of all waste is recycled or composted, while 11% is incinerated. The rest is sent to landfills (37%) or openly dumped 33%). According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - IPPC Waste Management report, waste is a con- tributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The larg- est source is landfill methane (CH4), followed by wastewater CH4 and nitrous oxide (N2O). Minor emissions of carbon diox- ide (CO 2 ) result from the incineration of waste containing fossil carbon (C) (plastics; synthetic textiles).

Incineration and industrial co-combustion for Waste-to- Energy (WtE) provide significant renewable energy benefits and fossil fuel offsets. Currently, >130 million tonnes of waste per year are incinerated at over 600 plants. Thermal process- es with advanced emission controls are proven technology but more costly than controlled landfilling with landfill gas recovery; however, thermal processes become more viable as energy prices increase. The total global economic mitigation potential for reducing landfill CH4 emissions in 2030 is estimated to be >1000 MtCO 2 - eq (or 70% of estimated emissions) at costs below 100 US$/ tCO 2 -eq/yr. • 20–30% of projected emissions for 2030 can be reduced at negative cost • 30–50% at costs <20 US$/tCO 2 -eq/yr. • More significant emission reductions are achievable at higher costs, with most of the additional mitigationpotential coming from thermal processes for WtE. Waste is a resource for green energy. Waste is a valuable re- source for organic content turned into biogas or inciner- ated for producing electricity and district heating (DH).

Landfill is the worst of all solutions – and by far the most popu- lar!

Landfill gas (LFG) is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material in landfills. LFG is composed of roughly 50 percent methane (the primary component of natural gas), 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO 2 ), and a small amount of non- methane organic compounds. Methane is a potent green- house gas 28 to 36 times more effective than CO 2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere over 100 years, per the latest IPCC as- sessment report (AR5) Existing waste-management practices can provide effective mitigation of GHG emissions from this sector: a wide range of mature, environmentally effective technologies are available to mitigate emissions and provide public health, environmental protection, and sustainable development co-benefits. These technologies can directly reduce GHG emissions through landfill gas recovery, improved landfill practices, engineered wastewater management, or avoid significant GHG generation

See here how one of the best Waste-to-Energy plants in the World operates:

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