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10 May 2010 05:05:06

Residual waste: problem or opportunity?



Residual waste: problem or opportunity?
Using residual waste as a means of energy production should only be considered once maximum resource recovery has been achieved.

That is the reaction of the Green Alliance to a recent study by researchers at the Centre for Resource Management and Efficiency at Cranfield University, which concluded that Energy from Waste (EfW) technology could play a role in the UK's renewable energy future.

The work suggests that by the year 2020, 50 per cent of the country's renewable energy target can be reached with EfW - providing that the suitable support and infrastructure is put in place.

However, the Green Alliance suggests that EfW should be used as a last resort after resources have been used to their maximum.

According to the organisation, EfW "could" contribute to renewable targets, but "both more sophisticated recycling technologies and more recyclable products and materials" should be explored first.

It argued that so called "residual" waste should not be seen as a given and efforts should still be made to reduce landfill levels.

So, should we continue to focus on reducing waste levels in the UK, or should we accept that waste reduction will take time and find a way to fully utilise it as a resource? ADNFCR-1235-ID-19768411-ADNFCR


Discussion Thread  

15 May 2010

Clearly, the answer to the question above is to make the very best efforts across the board to not only reduce waste in the first place but also to make the very best use of what is 'left over'.

I don't believe that the 'incineration of waste' is a desirable option for reasons that are mostly self evident. The acceptable alternative is very simple and, more to the point, available now - remove everything from the waste stream that can thereafter be re-used/recycled (mostly glass, plastics, metals & 'grit'), create a clean biomass fuel from what is left and run it through the best available energy conversion technology.
In this way, those materials that can be usefully recovered are used in an unarguably sustainable fashion, the energy conversion will be eligible for ROCs or the like, the 'cleaning' of the stack gases is easy and cheap (compared to mass burn), the buildings required don't have to be gargantuan monstrosities and genuine green electricity ensues.

This is the 21st Century so why would anyone in their right minds develop (let alone fund) 'mass burn incineration' when there is a cheaper and more profitable alternative that is clearly much more acceptable to the public.


15 May 2010

Clearly, the answer to the question above is to make the very best efforts across the board to not only reduce waste in the first place but also to make the very best use of what is 'left over'.

I don't believe that the 'incineration of waste' is a desirable option for reasons that are mostly self evident. The acceptable alternative is very simple and, more to the point, available now - remove everything from the waste stream that can thereafter be re-used/recycled (mostly glass, plastics, metals & 'grit'), create a clean biomass fuel from what is left and run it through the best available energy conversion technology.
In this way, those materials that can be usefully recovered are used in an unarguably sustainable fashion, the energy conversion will be eligible for ROCs or the like, the 'cleaning' of the stack gases is easy and cheap (compared to mass burn), the buildings required don't have to be gargantuan monstrosities and genuine green electricity ensues.

This is the 21st Century so why would anyone in their right minds develop (let alone fund) 'mass burn incineration' when there is a cheaper and more profitable alternative that is clearly much more acceptable to the public.


17 May 2010

Anyone seen the gulf of Mexico lately? The ruptured well is an environmental disaster of astronomical proportions but serves to highlight the need for alternative sources of energy; and energy from the biomass in waste has a genuine and significant part to play in providing our sustainable energy mix of the future.
There is a need for us all to get real about waste its with us now and for the foreseeable future and in spite of our best efforts to reduce and recycle there is still going to be waste destined for landfill. So why not turn this to into usable commodity and recycle it as energy? The aspirations of the Green Alliance me be laudable but the reality is that while we search for their particular holy grail we are missing the opportunity to do something that will help drive recycling, reduce waste and deliver the green-energy alternative to fossil fuels. John's solution is more practical and it is doable now. Its not the only answer to our joint problem of waste and energy but it is link in the chain to making it possible to have a low carbon future


17 May 2010

"remove everything from the waste stream that can thereafter be re-used/recycled"

The problem of waste separation is why mass incineration is mooted as an option. Separation technologies are still not up to scratch, or many are energy intensive.

Take plastic separation for example. The average consumer cannot tell the difference between types of plastic, nor can separation technologies, (apart from sink-float processes, which are timely and expensive). This leaves the separation of a mixed stream of plastics to be performed manually, often by low paid, low skilled workers.

Using a mixed plastic waste stream yields nothing useful but the odd bit of sinew for park furniture.

I think EfW is a "ticks most boxes" solution, until the appropriate technologies are developed to make sorting into "recyclable streams" a more economical process.




Discussion Thread  

 


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