Award as “Low Carbon Model Company of the Year”
Waste has been a huge problem ever since Antiquity. Mountains of waste and wild landfills dirtied entire settlement areas, introduced diseases, spread epidemics and polluted the groundwater. It was the untreated rubbish heaps in streets and courtyards that facilitated the rapid and fatal spread of the plague in the Middle Ages. Over the centuries, ever increasing quantities of waste were dumped. But only in modern industrial society, with a further exponential growth in garbage, did it become clear that we had created ecological time bombs with such enormous landfills. Even worse: landfills release methane gas, more than twenty times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.
In Germany, the necessary conclusions were drawn; since June 2005 no more untreated waste is allowed to be dumped in landfills. Laws were similarly changed in many other countries. The understanding of waste treatment has significantly changed in these countries, expressed for example in the willingness of citizens to separate their waste. Nevertheless, large quantities of waste continue to be dumped or openly burned without treatment all over the world. We are faced with the challenge of finding an environmentally-friendly and economically effective solution also for these areas.
In the European Union the principle of a five-stage waste hierarchy applies, as defined by Directive 2008/98/EC. Waste prevention has the highest priority, followed by re-use. Where waste is unavoidable or cannot be re-used, it should be recycled if possible. Everything that cannot be recycled should be thermally utilised. Only those substance that can no longer be used after thermal recovery should be disposed as landfill.
Produce durable goods in order to save raw materials, avoid environmentally-damaging materials in packaging, generally reduce the volume and weight of packaging.
Do not use disposable products, but rather re-usable products.
Recycling of previously used goods into other products, e.g. by melting metal
Thermal treatment of residual waste to generate useful energy, while complying with efficiency criteria
Thermal waste treatment without complying with efficiency criteria, disposal as landfill
In the global conurbations, each citizen produces an average of 500 kg of waste annually. Taken together, this represents a considerable daily and annual volume. Incineration or thermal treatment reduces this volume by approx. 90%. The residual volume is completely sanitised by the combustion process, in other words all hazardous and pathogenic substances are removed. Thanks to modern flue gas cleaning technology, the process is clean and safe.
During thermal recovery, the energy contained in the waste is converted into significant amounts of electric energy and district heating, thus reducing the necessity to use climate-damaging fossil fuels such as natural gas, crude oil, or coal. Household waste has an average thermal value of 9 - 11 MJ/kg, although it should be noted that this waste is in itself very inhomogeneous. Therefore, prior to recovery, the waste volume is mixed intensively, in order to attain a calculable thermal value.