Waste to Energy Recovery

Energy recovery from waste is the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into useable heat, electricity, or fuel through a variety of processes. This process is often called waste-to-energy (WTE). WTE recovery (or WTE incineration) is often falsely labelled as recycling and considered a green solution for waste management, However, producing goods from virgin, finite resources requires a significant amount of energy, and burning them in an incinerator destroys those resources for good.Waste prevention, re-use and recycling are still preferred (see definition for incineration).

Source separation

Source separation is a method of recycling whereby materials are separated at the source, ready for recycling. It can also be referred to as dual stream recycling (see definition for Single stream VS dual stream recycling).

Recycling

Recycling is a complicated and sometimes imperfect process of converting waste materials into new materials. This process allows us to reduce the consumption of fresh materials and limit energy usage and pollution. While recycling can be very useful, it has often been falsely heralded as the solution to plastic pollution, it is unfortunately not all that simple. Recycling is a hugely energy-intensive process and can still be very polluting. Furthermore, plastic products have a huge variety in composition, colour, weight and size – meaning they cannot be recycled together. For example, coloured plastics are much more difficult to recycle and therefore have little market value for Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) to recover.

Recovery rate

Percentage of usable recycled materials that have been removed from the total amount of municipal solid waste generated in a specific area or by a specific business.

Post consumer materials

Once a material or finished product has served its intended use and has been diverted or recovered from waste destined for disposal, it is then considered “post-consumer.” Having completed its life as a consumer item, it can then be recycled as such. Post-consumer waste generally comes from our homes, which is more difficult to separate and collect.

PVC

PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, has generated significant debates over recent years. Greenpeace has pressed for a ban on PVC production, because dioxins are created during the manufacture and incineration of the substance. Dioxins are one of the most dangerous human manufactured poisons, which also bioaccumulate in food chains. Also, the ingredients added to PVC can be toxic to users. The biggest producer of PVCs is China, where the production is relatively unregulated. However, PVC still persists today mostly for construction purposes, because of its durability, cost effectiveness, resistance to corrosion and versatility.

Polymer

Plastics, also called polymers, are produced by linking together small building blocks, or unit cells. Those building blocks, which chemists call monomers, are made up of groups of atoms that are derived from natural products or by the synthesis of primary chemicals from oil, natural gas, or coal. For some plastics, such as polyethylene, the repeat unit can be just one carbon atom and two hydrogen atoms. For other plastics, such as nylons, the repeat unit can involve 38 or more atoms. Once assembled, the chains of monomers become strong, light, and durable, which makes them so useful—and so problematic when they’re disposed of carelessly.