Upcoming report on trends in waste management

Recent and future drivers related to alternative thermal treatment of waste

IEA bioenergy Task 36 is preparing a report about trends in waste management. Within the waste hierarchy, waste-to-energy (WtE) conversion of municipal solid waste (MSW) is preferred before landfilling.

Certificated Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) produced from biomass and household waste in the frame of the EU funded RECOMBIO project [1]

MSW is non-hazardous household and commercial waste which is for a significant part of biogenic origin. Waste incineration is the state-of-the-art WtE technology, whilst alternative thermal treatment technologies such as gasification or pyrolysis have been applied little to MSW, so far for reasons such as specific cost or low technology readiness. Specifically in the EU, this is currently changing.

Feedstock is attractive

Key trends in the EU are driven by legislation and implementation goals, some of which are country specific:

  • Banning of landfilling in combination with limited social acceptance for additional incineration capacity.
  • Increasing waste produced or imported in combination with limited incineration capacities lead to increased waste treatment cost (gate fees). This makes it an attractive feedstock compared to biomass.
  • Generally, waste recycling rates are low compared to Circular Economy objectives for several reasons.

Alternative technologies

Some key opportunities driven by these trends are:

Implementation of alternative thermal technologies for feedstock recycling of waste, accelerating the implementation of circular economy, co-processing of biomass and waste, reducing the specific cost of conversion plants.

The upcoming report discusses both trends impacting solid waste management systems within EU countries as well as alternative thermal treatment technology opportunities.


[1] Gehrmann, H.-J., et al., EU project RECOMBIO, presented at the IEA bioenergy task 32, 33, 36 joint workshop „Production and utilisation options for solid recovered fuels“, Copenhagen, June 17, 2018.