The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) and Bioenergy Australia have released the first in a series of energy from waste (EfW) factsheets.
The factsheet references the waste hierarchy, outlining EfW as only suitable when waste can’t otherwise be reused or recycled.
“In Australia general waste is normally disposed of to landfill, without additional value being recovered,” the factsheet reads.
“It is at this stage that diverting the material to an EfW plant for energy recovery can provide for better environmental outcomes.”
WMRR NSW EfW Working Group Chair Miles Mason said interest was building on the role and benefits of EfW in an integrated waste management system.
“There is a growing dialogue around waste issues and media coverage is increasing. However, there is also a lot of misinformation out there,” Mr Mason said.
“The fact sheet answers some of the common questions that often stem due to a lack of easy-to-understand information such as does EfW smell? Is it safe? Does it reduce greenhouse gas emissions? And how does EfW fit in a circular economy? This document is a good starting point in the conversation.”
According to the factsheet, EfW facilities use technology to control emissions by removing chemical contaminants and further filtering the air to remove particulates from gas.
“As part of the planning and permitting process, a comprehensive air quality and human health risk assessment is carried out,” the factsheet reads.
“During operations, exhaust emissions from these facilities are continuously monitored using gas measuring equipment, to ensure they comply with even the most stringent environmental standards.”
WMRR NSW EfW Working Group Vice Chair Shaun Rainford said there are varying levels of understanding around the terms, concepts, suitable waste types and costs.
“There are different definitions and policies across jurisdictions, adding to the complexity of EfW,” Mr Rainford said.
“As the peak body of the waste management and resource recovery industry, it is WMRR’s role to assist in education and provide factual elements to the conversation.”