Soaring Waste Disposal Woes Foster Preference for Incineration Facilities over Traditional Landfill Dumping Sites

With a surging global population that is attracted to urban areas, solid waste management is an issue municipal authorities are combating strenuously in some of the world’s largest urban areas. The commonly applied method of dumping municipal solid waste into landfills and treating it at the same site has serious repercussions on the environment. As a result, traditional landfills are being replaced by newer technologies such as incineration, pyrolysis, recycling, and gasification for treating municipal waste.

What does Incineration involve?

Incineration refers to a waste treatment technology that involves the combustion of waste matter for recovering energy. Typically, a land incineration plant involves combustion of municipal waste in a controlled environment. During incineration, the waste material treated is converted into particles, gases, and heat, which are later used for electricity generation. The flue gases that are produced resultantly and are present in the dust created by the system are treated to be free of pollutants before they are released into the atmosphere.

Incinerators, combustion systems, air pollution control systems, waste receipt and handling systems, heat recovery systems (boilers), and combustion solid residue handling systems are the various types of equipment that a land incinerator plant comprises. For land incinerator plants, incinerators are significantly important, since they can reduce the mass of solid municipal waste by 80% and its volume by 90%, depending upon the composition of waste and the magnitude of material recovery post incineration. 

Government Backing Stimulates Land Incineration; China to Build World’s Largest Incinerator by 2020

Transparency Market Research says that the market for land incineration plants will reach a valuation of US$68.7 bn by 2023. The market will display a steadfast growth trajectory in the coming years. Currently, several governments and municipal agencies across the world are promoting the use of incineration techniques by means of sponsoring the development of land incineration plants. This is offered through funding schemes such as prudential borrowing, capital grants, and infrastructure (WI) credits for development of the same. For instance, in countries such as the U.K. and New Zealand, the introduction of higher landfill taxes has been the reason for contractors to seek alternate waste disposal techniques, thus driving the development of the land incineration plants market.

However, the emission of flue gas in land incinerator plants has attracted a lot of criticism from the public in the form of protests across many parts of the world. This poses a major challenge to the development of the land incinerator plants market. To address this, modern land incineration units utilize advanced technologies that are sustainable and have thus decreased flue gas emissions considerably. In the coming years, these technologies are expected to provide newer opportunities for developers of these units.

Presently, China is grappling with the uncurbed amount of refuse generated across many of its cities. In the bid to address this, China is constructing the world’s largest waste-to-energy plant. The new incinerator, which is expected to be up by 2020, is one of the 300 waste-to-energy plants that are expected to be developed in China in the next three years. Once operational, the incinerator will convert one-third of trash in Shenzhen into energy each day, with other cities benefitting similarly from the technology.


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