EfW Transition Technology or Yesterday’s Technology | with Adam Read
In this webinar, our guest panel discusses the future of energy from waste technologies, particularly those dealing with thermal treatment.
A few questions we answer in the webinar – Where is the regulatory landscape taking us? Are feedstocks changing significantly, making these technologies less appropriate? Will climate and pollution campaigners bring these solutions to a premature end, or can they continue to play a critical role in sustainable waste management for cities and regions around the world through technological innovation, the expansion of heat offtake, and the opportunities surrounding carbon capture at these sites?
One of the panelists, Jarno Stet has answered audience questions that were unanswered in the live webinar.
How do you see the future market of waste to energy market, particularly for organic fractions? What are the potential promising technologies?
In the UK, the Resources & Waste Strategy asks that segregated food waste be treated via anaerobic digestion rather than in-vessel composting in order to exploit the energy potential. There is also scrutiny around the (unabated) carbon emissions from other forms of composting compared to AD. Similar requirements are in place in other European countries where either wet or dry AD is used depending on the feedstock composition and quality as well as the outlets for the fertilizers obtained this way.
Wet-AD works best for wetter organic streams, such as a food waste monostream, while dry-AD can be used for a mixed organics stream containing food/garden/ green waste.
Will biomass EfW be classified differently in the future?
Whilst using biomass for energy production does create CO2, this is biogenic and unlikely to be included in the ETS, similar to how the biogenic part of MSW is excluded if this waste is sent to an ERF.
If biomass combustion is included in the ETS, it will also have consequences for many more sectors that emit biogenic carbon from generating energy, such as AD and composting facilities.
Will PoP waste decrease in time as its use in new products is banned?
That remains to be seen. The average item of soft furnishing takes around 20 years to enter the disposal system. The restrictions only became more stringent recently, meaning the volume of items containing POPs that are in circulation will stay significant for several decades. Whilst the use and application of certain POPs is now restricted within countries that signed the Stockholm Agreement, they still enter the UK via imports from countries that have not ratified the agreement. In addition, the POPs that are now restricted are simply substituted for similar chemicals that behave in the same way as the banned ones but which have not been restricted or banned yet. This practice means that the volume of POP waste is unlikely to decline significantly as new POPs are added to the restrictions.
In addition, POPs such as PFAS are used in food packaging, but these have not been restricted yet on a widespread basis. There is growing scrutiny on their application in food packaging, but only a few regions and nations have started with restrictions. Then there is the issue of PFAS applied in products and packaging in non-food settings, which is not a major focal point at present.
The WEEE industry has reported that they continue to find POPs even in new plastics that technically should not contain them. This is likely due to blending during the recycling process, which created these plastics.
How is the present global situation of textile effluent treatment?
Textile industry effluent is not typically feedstock for EFW facilities. This would typically sit within the legal framework or legislation for (industrial) wastewater management, which differs per country or region. Standards for industrial effluent treatment tend to be more stringent in developed countries, with more lax standards in the developing world.
How best can you guarantee feedstocks?… paying/buying or legislation
The typical ERF does not tend to pay the waste producer for the feedstock, bar a few exceptions around specific mono streams used for energy generation, such as wood or food waste (i.e., a rebate is paid for the material). Much of this depends on energy market prices/income and/or renewable energy subsidies. When these are high, the plant operator might be able to offer rebates in order to attract feedstock.
In most cases involving municipal solid waste, commercial/industrial waste, hazardous/medical waste, wastewater treatment sludge, etc. the waste producer pays the ERF for the waste to be treated. In order to attract feedstock, the operator in an open market usually competes on price (gate fee). Where a waste market is closed and highly regulated e.g., via waste flow allocations or restrictions (i.e., the authority in charge decides where waste is sent for treatment: ‘’ you will send your waste to x facility’’), competition on gate fee would not normally be the main driver to obtain feedstock.
In an open market, legislation is usually needed (landfill bans, taxation, restrictions etc.) to avoid waste flowing to the cheapest outlet (normally landfill) but into ERFs.
Much also depends on the local or national (legislative) framework on how waste management is catered for. Some countries put a specific requirement to send certain waste streams into ERFs via legislation whilst others do this by restricting the ability to send (certain) wastes to landfills.
Simone Aplin, Technical Director, Anthesis Group
Simone is a Chartered Waste Manager with over 25 years’ of experience in waste and resource management. She has worked in the waste industry; for the Environment Agency in regulation; and waste strategy, and for around ten years in consultancy. She is a trusted advisor for waste market and regulatory due diligence and post-acquisition support. She regularly supports project developers and investors with feedstock and market assessments to support investments and acquisitions, feedstock procurement, and asset optimisation.
Jakob Sahlén, Head of Environment & Sustainability, Sysav
Jakob has worked within the energy and waste sector for over a decade. He has been engaged in the forming of legislation, policies, and standardization work in Sweden and Europe. He is a former national delegate in CEWEP (Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants) and a former national delegate in ISWA (International Solid Waste Association). Jakob is also a former member of the CEWEP Scientific & Technical Advisory Council and a current board member of the Southern Swedish Environmental Law Association. In addition, Jakob loves playing padel and making music.
Jarno Stet, Waste and Recycling Manager, Westminster City Council
Jarno is a member of the United Kingdom’s Chartered Institute of Waste Management and a local authority waste management specialist. He holds a double degree in Facilities Management and has over 17 years of experience in resource and waste management. As Waste and Recycling Manager for Westminster City Council, he looks after its waste management provisions that provide services to a resident population of 250,000, 34,000 businesses, as well as 1 million daily visitors, commuters, and tourists. Jarno is the current Secretary of the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO). NAWDO is the primary network for senior local authority waste managers with statutory responsibilities for waste disposal. It represents the interests of the client side of waste management for LA waste disposal authorities.
Adam Read, Chief Sustainability Officer and Director of External Affairs, SUEZ recycling and recovery
Adam has specialized in waste management policy development, strategic decision-making, behaviour change, procurement, and training for the last 19 years, first as a municipal waste management officer, then as a University based researcher, and for the last 12 years as a consultant working globally on waste services and strategies.Adam has a PhD in waste management decision-making from Kingston University, has an honours degree in Geography from Exeter University, and was awarded an honorary professorship from Northampton University in 2002 for his contribution to waste management research and communications. Adam has worked with the waste and water sectors on technology options, feedstock assessments, and end market supplies, including market reviews of macerator technologies. Adam has spoken widely at practical waste management conferences across the globe, including recent high profile events in Dubai, Washington, Sardinia, Cape Town and Sydney. He has also given key note addresses at ISWA, AWMA and Australia’s Zero Waste Conferences. He has authored over 300 articles, 50 in peer review journals, and has delivered in excess of 150 conference presentations in the last decade.