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What does it mean, ‘recover’? In connection with waste, recover simply means the creation of energy from rubbish. We produce so much waste that even after reducing, reusing and recycling it there are tonnes of it left destined for the landfill. There are several ways of energy recovery from waste and these include: incineration, anaerobic digestion, mechanical biological treatment, gasification and pyrolysis.

Energy is recovered by incineration in two ways: direct waste incineration or using waste as a fuel substitute. The technology used for burning waste has significantly improved over the years and are successfully used in some European countries.

Anaerobic digestion means decomposing biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen. The decomposing waste produces methane that is typically used to produce electricity. The technology used is still in its development stages.

Mechanical Biological Treatment

The waste unsuitable for recycling is mechanically broken down and dried. The biological processes involve either composting or digesting. There are many advantages of mechanical biological treatment (MBT) of waste. For example: it reduces the amount of methane compared with untreated waste in landfills, it could prevent hazardous waste ending up on landfills, it could enable further recovery of recyclables, and the plants themselves are modular and can be built on quite a small scale. 

Alternative Energy Processes

Gasification  of waste is a type of advanced conversion technology that produces a combustible gas that is a mixture of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane. This gas can be used to generate heat and electricity or can be upgraded to to create syngas. To learn more visit the Biomass Energy Centre.

Pyrolysis is an advanced conversion  in the absence of oxygen that can be used to produce a gas, oil or solid char (sometimes known as biocoal). To learn more visit the Biomass Energy Centre.

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