A closer look at the burning question

Thermal waste-to-energy involves converting residual waste into electricity, typically through direct combustion or high temperature gasification. It promises to put rubbish to good use – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by diverting waste from landfill and offsetting electricity generation from the grid. However the reality is not that simple.

The analysis of thermal waste-to-energy emissions is often assumption driven, and fails to accurately account for extensive energy capture at modern landfills and major changes already underway in the waste and electricity sectors. Well intentioned policy, supported by inaccurate analysis, risks unneccesarily locking in high emissions in the waste sector for decades to come.

In this bulletin, we explore the drivers of waste to energy emissions and consider how the trade offs between landfill energy and thermal waste-to-energy will likely change over the next ten years.

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