Is energy-from-waste really such a dirty word?
I'm due to host my first webinar tomorrow (November 24) on energy-from-waste (EfW) â€“ or more specifically, how to maximise waste as both an energy source, and as a resource.
The timing of this webcast couldn't be better – while EfW remains one of the top interest areas within our sector, we definitely need a greater steer on it from both a political and resource security point of view.
I find the industry very much divided on EfW, there are many reasons for this, but it is these disjunctures that could potentially cloud objectivity and rationale when it comes to working out what's best to do.
EfW is still buried in a dirty puddle, really. Incinerators, stacks, black clouds, pollution, health risks – these are the words that come to most people's minds when you mention the phrase. Rightly or wrongly.
Most incinerators have reacted to this and guiltily re-labelled themselves as energy recovery plants – but energy recovery is such a broad term now, with varying shades of cleantech and green depending upon the technology employed.
Unless we start to drill down and drum up some clearer definitions of the different types of EfW plant out there, and match their capabilities accordingly – according to waste stream, efficiency and value outputs – we could muddle ourselves into a corner.
The reason I'm slightly worried is because guidance will soon be drawn up on ‘best practice' around EfW as part of a commitment under the Government's Waste Review. WRAP are leading on this, despite not really having much to do with EfW in the past – its main focus has always been around boosting markets for recycled materials.
My first concern around the guidance is whether it will bend itself to WRAP's own agenda and remain technology-neutral or not. My second concern is whether proper consultation will be carried out on whether it should remain technology-neutral or not. You can see where I'm coming from …
WRAP is an excellent organisation, don't get me wrong. I just hope the right stakeholders are involved in this process, and that any vested interests make way for balanced input. Documents like these are so important because they will be so influential.
I will be raising some of these points during the webinar tomorrow. I hope you tune in.
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