Energy from waste - Summary and conclusions from the IEA Bioenergy ExCo56 Workshop

Mar 2009

This publication provides a synopsis from the workshop ‘Energy from Waste’ held in conjunction with the 56th meeting of the Executive Committee of IEA Bioenergy in Dublin on 12-13 October 2005.
Solid waste derived from the household and commercial waste sectors, commonly referred to as municipal solid waste (MSW), is an important resource. In many countries the majority of this MSW is consigned to landfill where it causes significant environmental damage through, for example the release of greenhouse gases, leachate, and general disamenity. The public sector is closely involved in the diversion of MSW from landfill as it sets the policy for waste management and normally controls the waste stream via contracts to the private sector. Policies on waste minimisation and recycling therefore impact directly on the nature and quantity of residual waste requiring treatment prior to landfill. MSW represents a significant resource for energy recovery either via the recovery of the materials’ inherent energy, through for example recycling/recovery processes, or through the direct recovery of the energy value. The energy recovered from residual MSW can off-set that derived from fossil sources.
Whilst there are various biological and thermal systems that can be applied to the treatment and recovery of residual wastes many of these still suffer from poor public perception and this negative perception often leads to deployment difficulties. Public bodies sometimes seek alternatives to the proven systems and these alternatives are themselves often unproven and/or technically and environmentally inferior to the conventional systems.
The key barriers to deployment of environmentally sound residual treatment technologies include:
• Resistance to implement existing proven systems in view of public opposition and/or knowledge of system performance compared to alternatives.
• Lack of systematic, reliable information on the performance of various configurations of treatment technologies.
These barriers can be addressed by providing policy makers and developers with:
• Information on systems performance – technology, environmental impacts, cost etc.
• Guidance – to aid policymaking and to assist deployment of systems.
• Reverse logistics – guidance on systems and infrastructure to systematically and incrementally recover resource value from waste.

By: IEA Bioenergy

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