Assessment of the greenhouse effect impact of technologies used for energy recovery from municipal waste: a case for England.J Environ Manage. 2009 Jul; 90(10):2999-3012.JE
Waste management activities contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions approximately by 4%. In particular the disposal of waste in landfills generates methane that has high global warming potential. Effective mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions is important and could provide environmental benefits and sustainable development, as well as reduce adverse impacts on public health. The European and UK waste policy force sustainable waste management and especially diversion from landfill, through reduction, reuse, recycling and composting, and recovery of value from waste. Energy from waste is a waste management option that could provide diversion from landfill and at the same time save a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, since it recovers energy from waste which usually replaces an equivalent amount of energy generated from fossil fuels. Energy from waste is a wide definition and includes technologies such as incineration of waste with energy recovery, or combustion of waste-derived fuels for energy production or advanced thermal treatment of waste with technologies such as gasification and pyrolysis, with energy recovery. The present study assessed the greenhouse gas emission impacts of three technologies that could be used for the treatment of Municipal Solid Waste in order to recover energy from it. These technologies are Mass Burn Incineration with energy recovery, Mechanical Biological Treatment via bio-drying and Mechanical Heat Treatment, which is a relatively new and uninvestigated method, compared to the other two. Mechanical Biological Treatment and Mechanical Heat Treatment can turn Municipal Solid Waste into Solid Recovered Fuel that could be combusted for energy production or replace other fuels in various industrial processes. The analysis showed that performance of these two technologies depends strongly on the final use of the produced fuel and they could produce GHG emissions savings only when there is end market for the fuel. On the other hand Mass Burn Incineration generates greenhouse gas emission savings when it recovers electricity and heat. Moreover the study found that the expected increase on the amount of Municipal Solid Waste treated for energy recovery in England by 2020 could save greenhouse gas emission, if certain Energy from Waste technologies would be applied, under certain conditions.