Great potential in Waste to Energy

By Laila Søndergaard, Metso Waste Recycling

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The green agenda has really taken off – and with good reason. But if we are to truly change the state of affairs, we need to do much more. Emissions must be significantly reduced, and Waste to Energy (WtE) is an essential part of the solution.

Unfortunately, climate change has already set in and is threatening local populations around the world with irreversible disasters. In other words, we can clearly see the terrible consequences of our many years of throw-away culture. With a growing population and particularly a rising middle class, action must be taken now. 

Four steps to success

Let’s look at where WtE belongs in the green transition. As citizens and nations, we must first and foremost become better at limiting our consumption (Reduce). When we do buy clothes, electronics and furniture – and anything else we need – we should buy high quality goods, so that they last for many years. 

When we no longer need our sofa, we can pass it on (Reuse) so that it has a longer life before it eventually ends up at the recycling centre. It can then be disassembled and some of the materials recycled to become new products (Recycle). The more materials we recycle, the fewer new chemical elements we need to emit into nature and subsequently process. 

However, there will always be some left over from our waste that cannot be recycled. We can transform this into energy, so that we can extract the very last resources from it (Recover). 

  • Reduce consumption - buy less
  • Reuse more – pass it on
  • Recycle to new products
  • Recover the resources

The final contribution

WtE treats non-recyclable waste – what is known as ‘residual waste’, i.e. not suitable for recycling or reuse. There is enormous potential. Even in the EU, which is the region in the world with the most ambitious waste policy, over 20% of our household waste ends up as landfill. In the rest of the world, the numbers are far greater. In many regions, waste is just collected in piles, to the great detriment of the environment and the local population. 

With WtE, ALL of our residual waste is incinerated and converted into energy that can be used for electricity, heating, cooling and fuels. It is clean production with an impressively high efficiency of up to 95% according to ESWET - the European association representing manufacturers in the field of Waste-to-Energy Technology.  Pollution is kept to an absolute minimum with ultra-low dioxin emission levels compared to the alternative – and WtE is therefore highlighted by leading experts and NGOs as a crucial factor in our ambitions to create a green transition. 

The essence of the circular economy

With WtE, we can get rid of the piles of rubbish and supply local populations with electricity, heat, fuels and roads. It is the essence of the circular mindset that is necessary to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations. Many countries have already put it at the top of the agenda. In Paris, WtE accounts for half of the city's heating, and in Sweden it supplies 1.2 million households with heat and almost a million households with power. The benefits of WtE have not gone unnoticed. The technology has already gained ground all over the world – and there are many new facilities on the way in years to come. The global market is expected to grow by just under 6.5 percent annually over the next five years according to a report from Research & Markets, and this is a conservative estimate. In Europe, there are currently around 500 facilities, while more than 1,600 facilities have already been established in Asia, which is the major market leader.

Powerful features a guarantee for success

A low cost per ton is provided by high reliability, ease of operation and great flexibility in various waste types. The Metso Outotec waste shredders come with a large variety of knives developed over the last many years to match client's specific needs. Meanwhile, the open-cutting-table design means that operators do not need to pre-sort the waste being loaded into the shredder. That in turn means less manpower and fewer breakdowns.   

Selected benefits of the Metso Outotec series of waste pre shredders:

  • The unique shredding system (both synchronous and asynchronous) with two shafts provides superior performance no matter the waste, resulting in unbeatable uptime 
  • The proven knives geometry reduces the risk of wrapping on the shafts, resulting in less bridging and fewer cleaning stops to improve capacity
  • The modularity ensure that only relevant components need to be maintained, ensuring a longer lifetime with less running costs
  • Both shredders have robust and proven constructions that are easy to access, making maintenance fast and the service costs low

To top it all, Metso Waste Recycling has a global network of service specialists and local service partners, who are ready to provide assistance 24/7/365.

Metso Waste Recycling is a sponsor of the Energy from Waste Conference 2021, taking place virtually from 10 - 12 March, which will explore the role of EfW in the drive towards a net zero economy. Book your place here and take a look at our programme of top speakers here.

Energy from Waste

Editorial staff, Energy from Waste

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