Key Facts about modern Waste to Energy
Waste to Energy (WtE) sits between recycling and landfill disposal on the waste hierarchy
- There are over 1000 thermal WtE plants operating worldwide mostly in Europe, Japan, the United States and increasingly in China, with many located within heavily populated urban areas.
- 1 tonne of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is approx. equivalent to 1 barrel of oil or ~1/2t of coal – WtE is able to generate up to ~14% of a household’s annual electricity needs.
- Environmentally proven – “It has been demonstrated internationally that modern waste to energy plants can operate within strict emissions standards with acceptable environmental and health impacts to the community when a plant is well designed and operated using best practice technologies and processes” (EPA WA, Report 1468, 2013).
- Classed as base load renewable electricity generation by the Federal government’s Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000, due to the biomass content of wastes such as MSW.
- Eliminates the need for new putrescible landfills – WtE is a key component of a fully integrated waste management system, allowing some European countries to virtually eliminate the requirement for landfill disposal. The Kwinana WtE project is targeting 100% diversion of waste from landfill by incorporating an on-site Brick Plant
- No odour – all waste is handled indoors under negative air pressure, with air drawn from the tipping hall and waste bunker used as combustion air in the boiler
- Minimal external noise – most noisy equipment and process activities are within buildings
- Demonstrated to reduce carbon emissions – International studies have shown that WtE plants are carbon sinks i.e. they abate or avoid more carbon emissions than they emit, by avoiding landfill gas (methane) emissions and offsetting base load fossil fuelled electricity generation
- Increase recycling rates by 5-10% – WtE communities tend to recycle more and WtE facilitates the recovery of metals from the waste. In Europe, countries with WtE that are least reliant on landfill disposal also have the highest recycling rates
- Secure resource recovery fees (contracts) for long periods – provides councils and rate payers with certainty
- No hazardous waste processed – MSW is not classed as hazardous or controlled waste in Australia
- Regional benefits and synergies – the Kwinana WtE project offers the potential for direct use of recovered energy as steam, electricity and recovered solid by-products by manufacturing companies in the Kwinana Industrial Area (leading to enhanced regional energy and job security)
Below are images from Tim’s recent trip to Tokyo with the Mayor of Fremantle Dr. Brad Pettitt.