The environmental and financial benefits of recovering plastics From residual municipal waste before energy recovery

Burnley, Stephen and Coleman, Terry (2016). The environmental and financial benefits of recovering plastics From residual municipal waste before energy recovery. In: Venice 2016 - Sixth International Symposium on Energy from Biomass and Waste. Proceedings, CISA Publisher, Padova.

Abstract

A life cycle assessment was carried out to investigate the environmental benefits of removing dense plastics from household waste before burning the waste in an energy from waste (EfW) facility. Such a process was found to improve the climate change and non-renewable resource depletion impacts of the waste management system.

A preliminary financial assessment suggests that the value of the plastics recovered in this way would be less than the reduction in electricity income for the EfW. However, if the plastics were separated by the householders and collected in a kerbside recycling scheme, the greater price commanded by the higher-quality reclaimed plastics means that the operation would financially viable Further work is required to assess the effectiveness of using both kerbside collections and mechanical recovery to reduce the plastics content and carbon intensity of EfW feeds.

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