- It does not require segregation of waste
- It 'burns' waste to produce power or fuel
- It is working in Sweden/Switzerland/Singapore etc
- It boasts of 'latest' technologies and 'safe' operating protocols
- People think it can be an 'addendum' to recycling: So segregated waste goes for recycling and ONLY whatever is mixed goes for Waste to Energy (WTE)
Here are a list of reasons it is a bad idea:
1. “Waste-to-energy” incinerators consume more energy than they produce
All incinerators are a massive waste of energy. Due to the low calorific value of waste, incinerators are only able to generate small amounts of energy while destroying large amounts of reusable materials. In contrast, recycling and composting conserve three to five times the amount of energy produced by waste incineration. Detailed Report.
2. Not suitable for the Indian Waste scenario
3. Detrimental to Recycling
4. High Cost
The setup cost and the operating cost is insanely expensive. The power requirements are higher. 240 crores is being spent for a WTE plant for Bangalore's waste. For a fraction of this cost, investments in recycling, composting and remanufacturing would create significantly more business and employment opportunities.
5. Health & Environment Risk
All incinerators pose considerable risk to the health and environment of neighboring communities as well as that of the general population. Even the most technologically advanced incinerators release thousands of pollutants that contaminate our air, soil and water. Many of these pollutants enter the food supply and concentrate up through the food chain. Incinerator workers and people living near incinerators are particularly at high risk of exposure to dioxin and other contaminants. Myths vs Facts on WTE
6. Not successful in India
Many state governments have tried and invested crores of rupees in setting up plants and not many are operational today. The most famous one to be shutdown is Okhla WTE plant near Delhi. Details
Questions to ask when faced with a WTE proposal : here
- Segregation at source. It is not a problem to be solved by technology, but by processes.
- Extended Producers Responsibility: Manufacturers to do away with packaging that cannot be recycled and pay for co-processing.
- Ban on Single-use items. Himachal, Karnataka, Maharashtra and a few other states have the policy in place. The enforcement needs to step up.