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Phoenix Energy Blog
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Reducing Landfill Dependency for WTE Power Plants


WTE, or waste-to-energy, is a method of generating power by using solid and other kinds of “wastes” as fuels. The waste products are either burned to generate electricity and heat or are treated chemically to transform them into viable fuels.

Most common waste incinerators cater to organic wastes. Countries that rely on waste incinerators have strict emission norms regarding harmful gases such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and heavy metals among others. Most modern incinerators generate fine particulate matter which is filtered and trace quantities of dioxins. This makes them safe for use and can generate clean energy while providing an effective waste management solution.

One of the drawbacks of WTE power plants is their dependency on landfills for an active supply of waste. Landfills are an inefficient use of land and human resources. One of the major ways of reducing dependency on landfills is using RDF or refuse-derived fuel.


An Overview of RDF

RDF is a specific form of WTE energy generation which uses various kinds of waste products such as municipal wastes and industrial wastes to create fuels. The kinds of wastes that are fed into RDF plants usually consist of non-biodegradable wastes and garbage which is extremely difficult to recycle. Some of the common waste products include plastics, cardboards, PVC, labels and other products. There are numerous fractions present inside an RDF plant which separates various components such as ferrous and non-ferrous components, glass, stones and others. The final waste is ground into a fine form and transformed into pellets for easy feeding into energy generators.


Why is RDF advantageous

The main advantage of RDF lies in its ability to treat extremely difficult and harmful materials such as polymers and glass and transform them into substitutes for fossil fuels. These RDF fuel pellets can be used to provide heat, generate electricity or used in furnaces at various manufacturing plants. There are also several cost benefits such as acquiring refuse-derived fuel is far cheaper than landfilling even when exports are considered.

RDF is also effective in a lot of European countries such as Sweden where it is used to make up for the increase in demand for heat. RDF also makes waste management more efficient as wastes which are collected from every household or industrial facility is no longer directed towards landfills but are categorized and sent to RDF plants.

While most agencies do not think carefully about their wastes before throwing them away, RDF executives turn those wastes into reusable energy sources. The only criticism against such large-scale RDF plants or WTE, in general, is that it reduces the opportunities for recycling of materials and the lack of foolproof emission control solutions. Irrespective of such setbacks, RDF is becoming a popular source of alternate energy which also takes care of waste management. Through a planned and systematic implementation of RDF power plants, one can not only reduce costs of operation but also eliminate the need of cumbersome landfills.

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