The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published the Energy from Waste report as a guide to the debate.
It is clear that the Government is focusing on preventing waste as well as ensuring that any waste is viewed as a valuable resource therefore they would ideally have waste either reused or recycled. It is also Government policy that efficiently recovering energy from residual waste has a valuable role to play in both diverting waste from landfill and energy generation.
The Energy from Waste report has therefore been published to provide a starting point for discussions about the role energy from waste might have in managing waste. This role will however always be dependent on specific circumstances therefore the guide does not provide all the answers but highlights the questions that we should be asking.
Energy from waste is about taking waste and turning it into a useable form of energy. This can include electricity, heat and transport fuels (e.g. diesel). This can be done in a range of ways. Incineration is the most well-known.
The Energy from Waste guide concentrates on energy from residual waste; residual waste is the waste which is left over after all the recycling which is possible has been done. Generally, this means the environment or economic costs of separating and cleaning the waste further is bigger than any potential benefit of doing so.
Residual waste is usually made of a mixture of things, part of residual waste will come from things made from oil like plastics as well as things which were recently growing and are biodegradable.
Only the energy generated from the recently grown materials in the mixture is considered renewable. Energy from residual waste is therefore a partially renewable energy source, sometimes referred to as a low carbon energy source.
According to the report Energy from waste has a poor image in the UK therefore, in future the Government is aiming to prevent, reuse and recycle more of the waste the UK generates, so the amount of residual waste should go down. However, energy from waste will remain important for two main reasons:
- To maintain the energy output from less residual waste resource we will need to divert more of the residual waste that does still exist away from landfill and capture the renewable energy
- Continue the drive towards better, higher-efficiency energy from waste solutions
This report highlights many key points which are important for us to consider, if you would like to view or download the report, click here.
You can also visit the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website for further information on the report.