Why Is Energy From Waste (EfW) Important?

Why Is Energy From Waste (EfW) Important?

The UK has seen a lot of development in terms of how we dispose of waste. In recent times, a new generation of Energy from Waste plants had been introduced which fulfils more purposes than just being a disposal-only point. The UK had been dependent on landfills to dispose of residual waste (waste that cannot be reused or recycled), but there are now new methods of disposing of this waste in order to generate usable energy.

It’s been estimated that approximately 6.8 million tonnes of residual waste will be available every year between now and 2025. There has also been a decline in landfills outpacing the use of alternative methods of disposal, which could suggest that the UK might face a capacity gap in terms of waste management.

What is Energy from Waste?

Energy from Waste, also commonly referred to as EfW, is a term for converting residual waste into a form of usable energy, such as heat or electricity. Most of the UK’s Energy from Waste plants produce energy in the form of electricity and an increasing number of plants are looking to use the heat generated as a form of energy (known as Combined Heat and Power or CHP). Learn more about Energy from Waste from our previous article here.

What Are The Benefits Of Energy From Waste (EfW)?

As a form of energy recovery, EfW plants are able to convert unusable or unrecyclable waste into usable heat and electricity which provides a range of benefits. This method of converting waste into energy has become popular and is seen to be a viable route for waste management.

Here are some of the key benefits of EfW:

  • Reduces the amount of waste that could go to landfills – With less waste being disposed of at landfills, this could reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and carbon emissions that would have been released into the atmosphere.
  • Lower risks of soil and land contamination – Less waste going to landfills means that there is a lower risk of contamination of the land and endangering wildlife and habitats.
  • Reduces the dependency on additional sources of fuel – As EfW plants are able to generate energy from residual waste, it would mean reduced dependencies on finite sources of fuel. This energy can also be used alongside solar energy and wind energy.
  • Reduces the need for energy imports – This would reduce our dependency on energy imports and also the potential environmental costs of energy transportation.
  • Lowers carbon footprint – Using a CHP plant instead of generating electricity and heat separately could improve energy efficiencies by up to 40%.
Image of an Energy from Waste plant.

Does Energy From Waste Cause Air Pollution?

Energy from Waste plants are generally seen to be a better alternative for the environment than landfills, but it does depend on a few factors. Such as if the residual waste has a high enough ratio of renewable energy to waste and if the EfW plant is efficient enough at converting the waste.

During the waste incineration process, the burning of plastics could lead to higher emissions of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants such as particulate matter. These pollutants can be released into the air, the soil, and even water.

Whilst pollution abatement measures had been introduced to tackle the issues with waste incineration pollution, research has shown that this process can have a significant effect on air quality.

How Can Air Pollution Be Managed In Energy From Waste?

Many countries in Europe have been taking steps to reduce pollution and there are also many legislations in place to regulate these facilities, such as the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) legislation which controls the development and operations of EfW plants.

Countries like Scotland have also been making progress towards managing EfW plants as they are regulated under the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) (PPC) Regulations 2012, which includes the controls required under the European Waste Incineration Directive (WID). EfW facilities must be assessed and permitted before they are able to operate.

In addition to these legislations, organisations that operate Energy from Waste plants should have the appropriate air pollution mitigation measures in place. Solutions such as carbon filter systems can be used for VOC abatement and odour control in these applications.

At AAC Eurovent, we manufacture high-performance carbon filters for reliable odour control and VOC abatement in Energy from Waste plants. Our AAC 2-Pass Swiftpack System is a duct-mounted system that incorporates the AAC Plastic Refillable range of carbon filters. The 2-Pass capability of this carbon filter system enables various types of media to be used which enables effective removal of general gases and odours, as well as specific gases like ammonia.


Our dedicated team would love to hear from you – whether you want to ask us about our products, or discuss a bespoke need, feel free to get in touch.

Contact AAC Eurovent for Carbon Filter Systems

If you are looking for an effective and reliable air filtration system that delivers measurable odour control and VOC abatement for Energy from Waste plants, then AAC Eurovent can help you. We also offer a design and manufacturing service for bespoke projects that require effective air quality management.

What Is Energy From Waste?

Historically, the UK had been very dependent on landfills and most of the early incinerators were for disposal only, which only reduces the volume of waste. However, most landfills were unattended and unmanaged which caused land and air pollution to the environment. There are more than ten toxic gases produced from landfills, with methane being one of the most dangerous. Other air pollutants that are emitted from landfills include dust, particulate matter, and other non-chemical contaminants.

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