Option 1 Waste to EnergyA set of technologies that uses mixed wastes asfuel to generate heat to run steam turbines whichproduce electrical energy.
WTE (waste to energy)Very seductive option in an energy starved country.Does not require segregation at source.One stop shop solution for all waste – wet, dryrecycleable, dry non-recycleable.
Sweden – WTE heaven !Only 4 % of the trash in Sweden goes to landfills.The rest is used as fuel in its power plants.20 % of Swedens electricity comes from waste.A lot of countries look up to Sweden as a role modelfor waste management.
Option 2 Zero wasteThe design and management of products andprocesses to reduce the volume and toxicity of wasteand materials, conserve and recover all resources,and not burn or bury them. Involves Reduce, Reuse,Recycle.
Reuse, Reduce, Recycle Wet waste Composted Recyclable dry Recycled waste Eliminate – stop using Non-recyclable non-recyclable materials dry waste for packaging or any other application
So which is better ?Waste to Energy or Zero Waste ?
WTE vs. Zero waste Environmental impactWTE Zero wasteToxic gases released, even with No toxic gases or ash resultingscrubbers, toxic ash to be from reuse, reduce or recycle,disposed of. Impacts health ofneighbouring communties. Wet waste gets composted into valuable fertilizer that can replace chemical fertilizers.Emit 33% more CO2 per kWthan coal-fired plants. Paper recycling reduces deforestation.Needs a steady supply of fuel,which is waste. Eliminates Reduces consumption of petroleummotivation to Reduce waste. for plastics manufacture.Promotes consumption of Energy requirement for recycling isscarce and expensive natural far less than for manufacturing fromresources and energy. virgin material.
WTE vs. Zero waste EconomicsWTE Zero wasteCapital cost of a WTE plant is Capital and operating costs oftwice that of a coal fired plant. composting, biomethanation and recycling units are considerablyHigh operating costs because of less, and more distributedenvironmental compliance across different industry sectors.requirements. Nation saves foreign exchangeRequires petroleum import for on import of petroleum forgeneration of virgin plastic. plastic manufacture.You burn paper that can be Nation saves foreign exchangerecycled, and import pulp to on import of paper pulp.produce paper again. Provides cheap fertilizers toCost of twice that of a coal fired farmers that is better for the soil.plant.
WTE vs. Zero waste Social impactWTE Zero wastePromotes indiscriminate Poverty alleviation – canconsumption among citizens. improve earnings of 15,000 waste pickers in Bangalore.No effect on industries (India has 1.5 Lakh wasteresponsibility to use recyclable pickers)material. Promotes social empowermentPromotes caste divide – waste of Dalit families.is unclean, people who handlewaste are unclean. Promotes social empowerment of women.Safe operations not possible inthe Indian context due to poor Involves communities in tacklingenforcement of environmental their own waste, inculcatessafeguards. responsible consumption.
Cost of energy productionWaste incineration (WTE) is more expensive thannuclear energy, as well as solar , wind and coalSource: U.S. Energy Information Administration. Excerpted from Table 2-5, page 2-10 ofUpdated Capital Cost Estimates for Electricity Generation Plants (November 2010)O&M= Operating and Maintenance.
CO2 emissions by energy source Energy generation from waste incineration is dirtier than from other fuels* *Nuclear plants produce no CO2, hence not in this comparison Source: U.S. EPA, 2007, epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-and-you/affect/airemissions.html
EU is moving away from WTEEU Resource Efficiency Roadmap, approved by EuropeanParliament 24th May 2012(32) (…) taking into account the waste hierarchy and the need to bring residual wasteclose to zero; calls on the Commission, therefore, to make proposals by 2014 with a viewto gradually introducing a general ban on waste landfill at European level and forthe phasing-out, by the end of this decade, of incineration of recyclable andcompostable waste; this should be accompanied by appropriate transition measuresincluding the further development of common standards based on life-cycle thinking; callson the Commission to revise the 2020 recycling targets of the Waste FrameworkDirective; is of the opinion that a landfill tax – as has already been introduced by someMember States – could also help achieve the above ends;
Sweden ? Recycling heaven ? Really ?Economically, Sweden would be better off recyclingand reusing its waste instead of burning it.Sweden is generating energy at with far moreatmospheric pollution than with traditional coal or oilfired power plants.Sweden does not have enough waste to feed itshungry WTE plants, and is now having to importwaste.The European Parliament has recommended movingaway from WTE.
Waste management hierarchyEnergy recovery by burning waste is the worst possible optionto dispose of waste, next to dumping.
Towards Zero Waste Pune, San FranciscoPune, IndiaZero waste program run by waste pickerscooperative.Collection,segregation, sales of recyclablewaste.7000 members - 92 % are Dalit women.Dramatic change in their incomes, moreempowered.Get health insurance, low interest loans.City saves Rs. 15 Cr. a year because of lowerWaste disposal cost.San Francisco, USAHas a Zero waste program.78 % waste is reused or recycled. Target 90 %by 2020.
Lets decide wiselyThe waste disposal issue is not about making Bangalorelook beautiful for visitors and investors. It is not about NotIn My Backyard and ruining someone elses backyard.Only a small mind will think this way.It is about fixing the issue with a holistic solution that doesnot ruin anyones backyard – not Bangalore, notMavallipura, not Mandur. A WTE plant will have to belocated somewhere, and it is going to pollute someonesbackyard with toxic gases and residual ash.Were just starting down a path to a sensible wastemanagement solution, and this is the time to lay thecorrect foundation.
Easy decision to make !1 Starting a Zero waste program that is beneficial tothe environment, is economically self-sustaining andwill improve the lives of thousands of women anddalit families.2 Burning our waste to generate a measly amount ofenergy, in the process wasting scarce raw materialthat can be reused or recycled, while polluting the airand ground in the process.
Sources of dataThe battle of incinerators vs. Recyclershttp://www.independent.co.uk/voices/the-battle-of-incinerators-vs-recyclers-1239360.htmlEnvironmental life-cycle comparisons of recycling, landfilling and incinerationhttp://www.airqualitymatters.ca/wp-content/uploads/Richard-A-Denison.pdfZero waste strategyhttp://www.belkorp.ca/VBT_090723_SRM.pdfIncinerators: Myths vs. Facts about “Waste to Energy”http://www.no-burn.org/downloads/Incinerator_Myths_vs_Facts%20Feb2012.pdfOn the road to Zero waste – successes and lessons from around the worldhttp://www.no-burn.org/downloads/On%20the%20Road%20to%20Zero%20Waste.pdfGAIA - Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternativeshttp://www.no-burn.org/San Franciso – Dept of environment Zero waste pagehttp://www.sfenvironment.org/zero-waste
The authorThe author is a core part of the Sada Zero movement in the locality ofSadashivanagar, Bangalore. Sada Zero has been running a wastesegregation and recycling movement for the past 2 years in half the locality,with 70 % of the residents segregating waste even though it is voluntary.Waste collectors collect, segregate and sell the recyclable waste, and keepthe earnings.Volunteers in Sada Zero work hands-on with the collectors – go door to doorwith them, actually collect the waste, train residents, convince them tosegregate, etc.Some Sada Zero presentationshttp://www.slideshare.net/zerowasteDisclaimer : The opinions in this document are the authors own.GV Dasarathidasarathigv@gmail.com