WBA Fact Sheet: Energy recovery from waste

a World Bioenergy Association fact sheet, July 2017


Waste management is a fast growing environmental business in the world today. One of the many solutions of dealing with the huge amount of waste is to create energy from it. Energy is recovered from the waste either in the form of electricity and/or heat, biogas and other transportation fuels after the primary treatment of waste. There are different methods to produce energy in a waste to energy plant (WtE) but it is dominated by combustion processes. The feedstock for WtE plants is mostly comprised of municipal solid waste (MSW) collected from the residential and commercial sector. The annual global waste generation accounts for 7-10 billion tonnes in total, out of which approximately 2 billion tonnes are categorized as MSW. Hence, there is a dire need to take care of this increasing problem.

Advantages of using an energy recovery from waste system are: 

  • It reduces the volume of waste upto 96%.
  • Production of heat and electricity along with solid waste management.
  • Better sanitation, lower risk of contamination and diseases.
  • WtE facilities are designed for high emission control
  • It has climate change impact as producing energy from waste avoids potential emissions from landfilling

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Fig 1: waste generation versus the income level of the country