Waste to energy: a review of the state of play in Europe and opportunities for technological and economic solutions to the problem

2014-08-01T13:51:54Z (GMT) by Richard E. Blanchard
Society’s waste poses significant threats to sustainability and sustainable development. Pollution and toxins can affect people’s health and damage the natural environment. Whilst there have been many legal and financial policies introduced designed to reduce waste, such as the European Landfill Directive, there is considerable variation in waste management practices across Europe. Waste to energy is one option for dealing with the problem of what to do with waste. In this paper, the state of waste to energy in Europe is examined. This considers the contribution of such technologies to energy supply in Europe and the economics of such schemes. Examples are drawn upon from innovations in thermal treatment and anaerobic digestion of waste. The potential of added value through co-product production of particular waste streams is explored where recovered resources of such material have a greater economic value than the energy itself that is being produced in the treatment.. Whilst energy from waste has a low preference on the waste management hierarchy, it must be accepted that it is required as society continues to produce waste. Only when people reduce the amount of waste they produce can we aspire towards a more sustainable society.