edie launches new business guide on opportunities and challenges of energy-from-waste
edie has launched a new guide for businesses exploring how energy-from-waste (EfW) can be used to assist with decarbonisation and circular economy goals.
Energy-from-waste (EfW) refers to a system that transforms residual waste – waste that cannot be reused, recycled, or recovered – into energy in the form of electricity and/or heat.
EfW can theoretically be achieved from any waste material that has a calorific value, i.e. any material that isn’t inert. Residual waste can include biomass, materials such as paper, cardboard and food waste and plastics – all of these materials have a potential energy stored within them that could be released and harnessed.
Most of the EfW in the UK is currently produced in the form of electricity. However, more plants are looking to use the heat generated, via combined heat and power (CHP) systems. In addition, innovative technologies can also transform the waste into other energy products such as transport fuels or substitute natural gases.
However, for businesses exploring how they can utilise EfW there is a lot to consider.
How does it work? What is the state of the market? Which businesses are best placed to deploy energy-from-waste? How do I determine if it is right for my business? All these questions and more are answered in this latest edie Explains guide, sponsored by phs Group.
The UK’s waste footprint has grown steadily since 1990, despite action from policymakers and businesses around a ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ framework. The UK is currently producing 27.5 million tonnes of non-recyclable waste annually, excluding plastics.
The UK’s options for dealing with this waste are to either burn it at EfW facilities, landfill it domestically, or ship it overseas. The latter option is not compatible with the UK’s commitments on climate change or waste and resources, according to Policy Connect, due to the fact that exported waste is often documented as recycled or sustainably managed, but is either burned in unregulated locations or left to pollute nature. Moreover, many nations are banning or limiting waste imports, which has pushed the cost of this option up in recent years.
Some green groups advocate the scaling up of EfW, dubbing it “safer, cheaper and cleaner” than landfill. Indeed, research suggests that up to half a million homes – the number of properties in Birmingham – could be heated using EfW by 2030 if the Government works with the waste management industry to dramatically scale up capacity and related infrastructure.
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