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Frequently Asked Questions in Mechanical Biological Treatment and the New Waste Technologies

Q: What are the new technologies in Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management?

A: New technologies in MSW management are near-market technologies for MSW management in the UK, including the technologies discussed in this web site. That means technologies which have been demonstrated on MSW, or have been built and operated overseas , again on MSW.

Q: Why do we need new technologies?

A: This is a question which would take a lot of time to explain in depth. A general explanation is that municipal waste management is evolving into an increasingly integrated and complex system of sorting, separation and recovery, as this is necessary to deliver both the landfill diversion and materials recovery targets. Another explanation lies in the fact that some existing common recovery options are being excluded by the implementation of local strategy and policy (including at many locations EfW (notably incineration), and other thermal methods. Once these alternatives have been ruled-out the only remaining options are the New Waste Technology options.

Q: Why the UK fixation with New Technology? Don't many of the European countries simply incinerate by Mass Burn, remove the metal cans etc from the ash residue, landfill the rest, and then seldom need to use any other waste technologies?

A: That's true and will remain the case, but in the UK incineration is so unpopular with the public, that the government has been unwilling to promote this option. Unless planning policy is amended by central government, obtaining planning consents for incinerators will generally continue to be so difficult as not to be worthwhile attempting. So we must continue our "fixation" with new technology, we have no choice, otherwise we will suffer huge EU fines soon for not complying with the waste diversion targets.

Q: All  these so called "New Waste" technologies might be better named "very expensive waste" technologies?

A: That's true, waste disposal costs are due to rise five to tenfold over the next few years - even after the benefits to our economy of minimising and recycling are allowed for.

Q: Would it be cheaper to pay the EU fines?

A: That's not an option of course, but would hardly be cheaper at £200/tonne!

Q: What is the cost (£/tonne), and pay back period, for refuse derived fuel?

A: Production of RDF must unfortunately be regarded as a waste treatment process, not the production of a product with a value. The driving force behind RDF it is the need to comply with the EU Landfill Directive, and divert MSW and most importantly the organic content of MSW, away from landfill.

The cost of RDF production varies enormously with the location, waste source material and type of RDF provided. Non densified forms of RDF being significantly cheaper to produce than densified pellets.

There is no such thing as a pay-back period for RDF currently in the UK. Our opinion is that you will have to pay for the disposal of your RDF once it is produced, despite the fuel value of the RDF. The price you will have to pay for RDF disposal will be from £Nil to say £30 per tonne. Transport to the point at which the RDF will be burnt will be at the producers cost as well. This may seem surprising, but it is how the market works in RDF at the moment in the UK.

Help us to develop this FAQ page, by completing the form in Contact, with your question. We will email you an answer and we may also add it to this FAQ page.

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