AD has key role in circular economy

On 26 January 2017 the European Commission laid out its vision for turning waste into energy as part of its wider overview of the state of play of the Circular Economy Action Plan. A report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) on the exploitation of waste to-energy techniques found that the efficiency of waste-based energy generation in Europe could be increased by more than 25% using technical options that are available today. In 2014 approximately 1.5% of the EU’s total final energy consumption was from energy recovered from waste.

Different processes come with different environmental impacts and circular economy potential, with the main ones including co-incineration and incineration; anaerobic digestion of biodegradable waste; as well as production of waste-derived solid, liquid or gaseous fuels. As an example, the report points out that diverting one tonne of waste from landfill towards anaerobic digestion to produce biogas and fertilisers can prevent up to two tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions.

According to the JRC report, two-thirds of all the energy embedded in waste sent for incineration comes from household waste, residues from mechanical sorting of waste and wood waste

Picture Credit: European Commission