New technologies ‘needed for London waste’

Technologies such as plasma gasification and anaerobic digestion will deliver a maximum reduction in climate change emissions while still meeting London's recycling and renewable energy targets, according to a new report.

Greenhouse Gas Balances of Waste Management Scenarios, commissioned by the Greater London Authority, ranks these technologies far higher in the environmental stakes than landfill and incineration.

The report says that the most advanced gasification and anaerobic digestion technologies, which extract heat and energy from rubbish, can save as much as 410kg of carbon dioxide emissions per tonne of waste treated.

Incinerators, which process 22% of the capital’s waste, contribute 70kg of CO2 per tonne of waste treated and scenarios using incineration ranked among the worst of the 24 scenarios in the report.

Adam Baddeley, a senior consultant at Eunomia, the waste management consultancy that produced the report, said: “The core objective of the study has been to rank scenarios and provide some basis for policy decisions.

“We really believe that policy makers shouldn’t just focus on trying to install megawatts of energy on the board.”

London-based firm Advanced Plasma Power, a gas plasma specialist, welcomed the report but bosses said that as their technology does not use autoclaving – which ‘cooks’ the waste before treatment and was included in the report’s plasma gasification scenarios – they believe they can do better than the report states.

CEO Andrew Hamilton said: “We do not need to use anything as complicated as autoclaving – our process is much less energy intensive so we can improve, we think, on the greenhouse gas emissions in the report.”

He added that one of the strengths of plasma gasification was that the gas produced has the potential to be used in a range of technologies.

Mayor Ken Livingstone, who recently announced an extra £18m of funding over three years for new waste and recycling facilities, said the report showed London needed to develop greener methods of dealing with waste.

Kate Martin

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