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Tyren Sep 20, 2011 02:22 PM
I read with great interest your report "03 2011 Waste opportunities.pdf" of 29 August 2011 on a life-cycle approach to waste management for truly meaningful results on greenhouse gas emissions.

Do you have any views / recommendations on how this can be taken a step further, to the point where waste is processed in a 100% non-polluting manner to produce electricity and / or fuel oils? Such an approach will not only prevent landfills from growing but may also reduce existing landfills. It will also make the energy available in the local area where the waste is generated in an easily accessible form (electricity), i.e. not in the form of heat that needs to be piped.

I represent a company that for every 50 tons of waste processed per day can generate 2 - 3 MWh electricity from mixed waste. Solids and air emissions are about 1/10th of the strict California standards. There is no need for sorting (other than for glass and metal), which in and by itself also cost money - both to make sure the sorting is done properly and for the transport of sorted material. Payback time of the full investment is only a few years, with cheap and stable electricity being generated from day one.

Any views on how such a solution be brought to the attention of local and central politicians, companies, municipalities such that a life-cycle approach to waste management can be implemented?
Replies (1)
EEA Sep 29, 2011 01:51 PM
Dear Tyren,

First of all, thank you for your interest in our publications.

The life-cycle approach means that the environmental benefits of different waste treatment options are taken into account. For example, recycling of paper can replace virgin paper and thus the environmental impacts of virgin paper production would be reduced. The EEA shows with this report that moving from landfilling to recycling (and to a lesser extent to energy recovery) has a considerable potential to reduce environmental impacts of the waste system.

European legislation requires that waste should first of all be prevented, then re-used, then recycled, then recovered (incl. energy recovery), whereas landfilling is the least preferred option. In addition, the EU Directive on landfills sets binding targets for diverting biodegradable municipal waste from landfill. This legislation requires that those EU Member States that still heavily rely on landfilling their municipal waste, will have to move away from landfilling as well.

According to the EU Waste Framework Directive, by 2015 separate collection shall be set up for at least the following: paper, metal, plastic and glass, and a recycling target of 50% applies. Energy recovery of waste however can have a role for those parts of the waste that cannot be recycled or when it can be shown, using life-cycle thinking, that energy recovery would be the best overall environmental outcome for a specific waste stream.