Prospects for waste management in Europe
In the EU Member States, the generation of waste continues to increase, although at a very slow rate. Priority in waste generation is their reduction. There are many examples of development of reduction strategies in waste production. One of these examples is recovery of energy from waste.
Recovery of energy and materials from waste will be increasingly practised in future.
Considering that a relevant part of waste with high calorific value for the production of waste-derived fuel (WDF) can be easily separated from solid urban waste (SUW), is possible that this option will be increasingly used.
WDF’s volume is about 20% of SUW total and it is used in cement plants as fuel or in incineration plants on fluidised bed technology for electricity production (electricity, heat and steam).
Incineration is a consolidated technology more used in future specially in densely populated areas. Public opinion, in several European countries, oppose to incineration plants because of the concern given from possible emissions into the atmosphere even though the European legislations concerning emission are more restrictive of those of industrial plants.
From technical point of view emissions from incinerators can reach also lower ranks required by authorities in particular situations.
The scientific community concluded that emissions caused by incinerator plants of solid urban waste that remain within EU limit values do not cause damage to men and environment.
In incinerator plants of SUW energy recovery is relatively low.
If is recovered only electricity the potential recovery rate of energy from waste is equal to 20%.
The current European legislation considers as energy from waste plants only the incinerators plants where there is both electricity production and heat recovery where you get a greater energy recovery.
This can be also obtained in steam production plants.
For bio-waste treatment separately collected and with high moisture (for example food refuse, garden refuse or agriculture refuse) in Europe are used most frequently plants where to an anaerobic treatment phase follow composting next phase.
This pattern allowing the recovering of biogas and a better control of odours.
Many European countries have high revenue form electricity and heat produced by the use of biogas produced in the first phase of the process.
For mechanical-biological pretreatment in the future will be constructed more anaerobic treatment plants.