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By burning 150,000 tons of waste annually you will be emitting up to 150,000 tons of greenhouse gases, have you any concerns about this?

Combustion of waste in an energy recovery facility (ERF) provides a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to landfilling waste for the following reasons:

  • Combustion within the moving grate prevents the formation of the more potent greenhouse gas – methane –as the waste is prevented from decomposing;
  • per unit of waste, more electricity is displaced from conventional power sources using an ERF than using methane collected from a landfill and combusted in a gas engine.
  • the carbon intensity of electricity from an ERF is lower on average than electricity generated by using fossil fuels.

The quantity of carbon released to the atmosphere during the combustion process is much greater than that released by landfill on account of a large portion of waste material being sequestered into the ground when buried.  The main disadvantage of landfill with regards greenhouse gas emissions is from fugitive releases of methane to the atmosphere. Methane as a greenhouse gas has a global warming potential 21 times that of CO2, which means that its escape to the atmosphere can have a significant effect on the overall greenhouse gas contribution of a process. Even when the most optimistic collection rates for methane from landfills is assumed, incineration will always result in a lower release of greenhouse gases in CO2 equivalence terms than landfill.

The combustion of waste at the Buttington ERF, and generation of power displacing power from typical UK coal/gas mix, will lead to a net reduction of approximately 24,000 tonnes per year carbon dioxide when compared to disposing the same quantity of waste in a landfill with a gas collection rate of 78%. 

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