Waste-to-Energy: What, how and why.
Waste-to-energy solutions have been leading the way in technological developments within the renewables spectrum. Renewable energy in waste is becoming more popular with the public and recognised by government bodies, such as OFGEM, who are actively releasing schemes to incentivise energy companies to produce more of their energy from renewable resources.
The concept of turning waste into energy contains a positive rhetoric which is now becoming more necessary in today’s world. The levels of waste produced have been alarming in the past decade. Plastic residue, among others has been damaging local wildlife on both sides of the Arctic Ocean. Waste sites have also been linked to cancer, as well as common infection and spread of bacteria, toxic to the human body. It is thus essential to have a solution to the waste produced by humans. Recycling to produce energy is a viable solution, providing a solution to waste management whilst also solving the problem of the ever-lacking fossil fuels.
The consensus on the expiry of fossil fuels has now been accepted by most countries world widely. The Paris Climate agreement is one of the largest legislative concord which highlights the importance of reducing emissions and waste and obtaining energy from eco-friendly, renewable sources. India and Saudi Arabia are one of the most recent countries to join the renewable wave. India has ensured the accessibility of solar power throughout the country, undercutting fossil fuels.
In the UK specifically, the UK recycling rate for ‘waste from households’ was 44.3 per cent in 2015, falling from 44.9 per cent in 2014. This is the first time the rate has fallen since it began in 2010, though the 2015 figure still represents the second highest annual value on record. There is an EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50 per cent of household waste by 2020. UK Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW) sent to landfill has continued to reduce and in 2015 was 7.7 million tonnes. This represents 22 per cent of the 1995 baseline value. There is an EU target to restrict BMW landfilled to 35 per cent of the 1995 baseline by 2020. The UK comfortably met interim targets for 2010 and 2013.
Such efforts are primarily encouraged by EU Directives and driven by government bodies such as OFGEM. REWS is taking the leap forward and represents an important step into the future by focusing directly in the waste-to-energy sector.