Energy in Waste

Waste contains energy fractions which can be reused

Waste contains large quantities of high-energy fractions. Different types of plastic, paper and textiles often give the waste, even mixed waste, a high calorific value. Their incineration in specially designed plants is able to obtain only 15% of the energy contained in the waste.

Consequently, the quantity of energy generated in incineration plants varies on average between 5,500 and 6,100 kJ/kg. In contrast, waste recycling can save as much as 20,000 to 31,000 kJ/kg of energy. In addition, recycling reduces the quantity of natural resources taken from the environment. This comparison is an excellent illustration of the much greater benefits presented by recycling when compared to waste incineration.

By recycling 24 out of 25 solid waste materials, as much as 3 to 5 times more energy can be saved than the energy generated by incineration plants. This is mainly due to the fact that incineration plants can recover only 15% of the energy from waste. Therefore, if our objective is to use waste more effectively it is necessary to move away from incineration plants and invest in recycling.

Introduction of technologies replacing ineffective incineration plants is a must

Although waste incineration is ineffective, not environmentally friendly and occupies a low position in the waste treatment methods hierarchy, it is still widely used because of its simplicity. However, if we want to achieve the objectives set out by the European Union, and as a result achieve extensive social, economic and environmental benefits, we must promote new technologies which can help replace waste incineration with recycling. One such technology of processing waste plastic has been created by Petrel.