Energy from Urban Waste

The recovery of energy from the controlled combustion of municipal solid waste (MSW), also called Waste to Energy (WTE) is a process aiming to provide electricity generation and disposal of post-recycling MSW. Different alternative technological options can be adopted for thermal treatment of solid waste: direct combustion of waste (or waste derived fuel), co-firing of waste with fossil fuels in existing non-dedicated plants, pyrolysis/gasification of waste followed by syngas combustion

Materials Recycling, Transformation and Recovery

As an answer to the growing need for recycled materials, Urban Wastes can be recovered as secondary raw materials to be used in the manufacturing of new products, such as:

  • Production of plastic materials (flakes, granules) reintegrated into the manufacturing of new products
  • Preparing metals for steel plants and cardboard for stationery
  • Recycling rubber products into flexible surfacing for sport centres, playgrounds etc.
  • Preparing wood to be used in manufacturing particleboards etc.

From Organic Waste to Resource

The organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW), that comprises mainly paper and paperboard, yard trimmings and food waste, represents the largest component of MSW in the world. Monitoring of pollution from different waste management options is crucial and environmental concerns are increasing the trend towards processes for adding value to OFMSW. In particular, the OFMSW can be the source of a wide range of high added value products by biotechnological tailor-made processes, whose integrated application together with other techniques can lead to the biorefinery development.

Education to sustainable Waste Management

The social incentive to Waste Management is based on the responsibility of individuals as part of the community for the improvement of the entire community, and is created by public awareness and school education programmes. The lack of public awareness and school education about the importance of proper solid waste management for health and well-being of people severely restricts the use of community-based approaches particularly in developing countries. Industrialized countries, which provide external support to developing countries, usually have technical expertise and human resources suitable for solid waste management in these countries. Their school and university education and subsequent on-the-job training are targeted for the technologies of solid waste management applicable to these countries. However, there is the lack of human resources with sufficient experiences and knowledge of solid waste management in developing countries. Opportunities to learn solid waste management problems and practices in developing countries through regular training programmes and seminars are rarely provided in industrialized countries.

Open discussion on Policy Issues and Recommendations

The issue regarding the disposal of urban solid waste has become one of the biggest challenges of public management, in view of the serious environmental impacts generated by the "dumps" (final disposal of waste outside specifications and without sanitary control) or by the drain of regular landfill capacity. The debate regarding the promotion of solid waste sector has been growing in recent years because of greater concern regarding the proper disposal of it, avoiding significant environmental impacts and adverse effects on human health. Policy Issues and Recommendations must take into account not only environmental issues, but also economic and technological constrains. Solutions adopted in developed countries might need to be adapted to the real situation of developing countries.