Trash Talk: Incineration vs. the Circular Economy

Trash Talk: Incineration vs. the Circular Economy

Posted on May 16, 2017 by DrRossH in Landfills and Disposal

Trash talk: it’s something that has become synonymous with overzealous drunken sports fans or reality T.V. starlets vying over the attention of a solitary eligible Bachelor. With that kind of competition, it’s easy to understand why literally t […]

Source: Trash Talk: Incineration vs. the Circular Economy

We can see this disparity quite clearly throughout Europe. In Copenhagen, where WtE is greatly utilized, 60% of waste is considered non-recyclable, whereas in Treviso, a city that separates 85% of their waste for recycling, the figure goes down to 15%. From this we can gather that what is actually non-recyclable waste is somewhere between 10-15% of what we produce, in weight that would be about 50 kg per European per year.
Europe’s incineration capacity is up to 81 million metric tons per year.

If all Europeans were to recycle the way they do in Copenhagen today we would need to more than double the incineration (221Mt) capacity in Europe –provided of course that we want to burn all the residual waste which is not realistic.
But if all the Europeans recycle the way they do in Treviso today we would need to cut current capacity 3 times down to 25Mt of incineration capacity.

Are we big enough to tackle such a problem with only long term benefits?  Putting partial responsibility of manufactured products on to the manufacturer would ensure that recycling rates would rise considerably and the  efficiency rates of recycling would also rise considerably.  If we could do that then the case of WtE may be less compelling.  But while we have manufacturers able to produce anything they want with no responsibility of the consequences, we will have a huge waste problem.