Municipal solid waste (MSW) as a renewable source of energy: Current and future practices in China

With rapid economic growth and massive urbanization, China faces the problem of municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal and the pressing need for development of alternative energy. Waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration, which recovers energy from discarded MSW and produces electricity and/or steam for heating, is recognized as a renewable source of energy and is playing an increasingly important role in MSW management in China. This article provides an overview of the WTE industry, discusses the major challenges in expanding WTE incineration in China, namely, high capital and operational costs, equipment corrosion, air pollutant emissions, and fly ash disposal. A perspective on MSW as a renewable energy source in China is also presented. Currently, only approximately 13% of MSW generated in China is disposed in WTE facilities. With the significant benefits of environmental quality, the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and government policies and financial incentives as a renewable energy source, WTE incineration industry is expected to experience significant growth in the coming decade and make greater contribution to supplying renewable energy in China.


What is nanowaste and why should we worry about it?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. It represents a massive step forward and a big shift in all aspects of human life. However, like the three industrial revolutions that came before, it will also have byproducts and problems to be overcome.

The Second Industrial Revolution brought mass production and cost reduction, but it also brought mass consumption and the problem of waste disposal and recycling. The Third Industrial Revolution, also called the electronic or digital revolution, gave us computers and telecommunication solutions, but the problem of electronic waste remains unsolved. Read more

California bans microbeads to protect marine life

California governor Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday requiring Californiato phase out the use of microscopic exfoliating beads in personal care products sold in the state starting in 2020 to protect fish and wildlife.

The tiny plastic beads found in soap, toothpaste and body washes are so small that they are showing up in the bodies of fish and other wildlife after passing through water filtration systems without disintegrating. Read more

Washing-up liquid bottle made from ocean plastic aims to clean up seas

Plastic rubbish washed up on a beach. Fish in the northern Pacific Ocean ingest as much as 24,000 tonnes of plastic each year – the equivalent of 480m two-litre plastic bottles. Photograph: AP

The world’s first washing-up liquid bottle made from reclaimed ocean plastic is to go on sale in UK supermarkets later this month. Read more

Peeping into the Future of Waste

Waste management is an important tool for curbing climate change and for keeping our environment clean and healthy. Methane generated from biodegradable wastes is a powerful greenhouse gas, and when it’s not captured and used as a fuel it contributes to rapid warming of the atmosphere. Estimates suggest that biodegradable waste in dump sites and uncapped landfill sites are contributing far more methane to the atmosphere than previously thought. What’s more, urban food waste is predicted to increase by 44% from 2005 to 2025, and with no proper management in place, will significantly add to global greenhouse gas emissions. Read more

Your School Needs Effective Solid Waste Management

The fact that solid waste in schools is fast increasing cannot be overemphasized. This is attributed to increased population in schools. If you are a school manager or a city-county waste management coordinator, discover simple yet effective procedures of managing solid waste in your school.

Teachers and students can also be part of these approaches to rid their environment of undesirable waste. After all, many states require that all schools manage their solid waste efficiently.

Requirements for recycling solid waste

Starting July 2012, the state of California demands that schools and institutions that produce more than four cubic yards of waste must implement recycling strategies. This requirement seeks to divert commercial waste into the state’s expanding recycling plan. The general objective is to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

To comply with the law, you can take advantage of three solid waste management options. The first is a self-haul system while the second is subscription to haulers to do the job for you. The other option involves entering into an arrangement where a company picks up all recyclable material at your institution.

Other regulations surrounding the management of solid waste in California include-

• Public Resources Code- sections 42620 to 42622
• California Integrated Waste Management Act
• Senate Bill 373
• California Education Code – sections 3170 to 3276

The above regulations recommend schools to manage solid waste by-

1. Buying recycled paper
2. Revisiting specifications on procurement to eradicate the bias against recycled paper
3. Buying paper with biggest postconsumer waste
4. Stop buying paper that is deemed as potential contaminant


Benefits of waste reduction

Educational institutions in California alone account for 562 442 tons of waste every year. If unchecked, the trend can cause unprecedented damage to the environment and huge threat to people’s health. While the statistics present a worrying loss of nature’s resources, you can play a pivotal role in reducing the effects.

You can start by enforcing a stringent waste reduction approach. In addition, let your school review its daily operations. Evaluate the educational, environmental, and socio-economic benefits of waste reduction. When you implement an effective approach, your students will learn environment-based lessons at the recycling plant. Some of the benefits of this re-evaluation include-

• Reduced costs of disposing solid waste
• Increased safety and health of students and staff
• Diminished liability and costs of purchasing materials
• Improved general efficiency of the school expenditure

The Trash Compactor- an easy option

The outdoor trash compactor is a simple yet effective device that could prove key in collecting and recycling common solid waste such as wrapping paper, plastic, and foodstuffs. It looks like the ordinary rubbish bin, only that it compacts the trash at the point of wastage.

You should invest in the trash compactor, as it eliminates the need for emptying the can. Interestingly, it reduces the
number of trash liners needed by eight times. It is ideal for use in cafeterias and other concession areas.
Other waste management options

Additional equipment that your school can use is:

1. SmartPack trash compactor- this stainless steel device is easily installed in all maintenance areas. Examples are points where families assemble for sporting activities and for meals.

2. Vertical baler-
this machine compacts cardboard effectively, making it easy for transportation and recycling. While it occupies a small area, it produces results fast. Schools can make money selling the recyclable cardboard to dealers.

3. Outdoor trash compactor-
this option eliminates the undesirable sight of dumpsters overflowing with stinking refuse. At the same time, you get to reduce the trips made by pickup trucks to haul trash from your school compound.

When you utilize the above management equipment, you will effectively rid your school of unsightly solid waste.


Science Behind Deonar Landfill Site Fire

Following satellite images dated January 2016 taken by NASA show the landfill site fire at Deonar, Mumbai. The landfill fire caused serious drip in air quality & smog around the city for several days.

landfill site smoke

Why Landfill Site Catches Fire?

A landfill fire occurs when waste dumped of in a landfill site ignites & fire spreads. In landfills that do not cover their waste with daily cover of soil, biological decomposition creates substantial heat & methane. This flammable combination of heat and methane gas cause materials in the landfills to spontaneously ignite.

landfill methane and fire

Landfill methane & fire

What most of us do not know is: Municipal Solid Waste disposed of in landfill generates 2 to 15 kg of “landfill gas” per metric ton of waste per year. Landfill gas generally contains 45-60% methane and 45-60% of Carbon Dioxide.[Source] Methane is 25 to 30 times more potent green house gas and contributes marginally to global worming. Methane generated from landfill sites is highly flammable. Typically the landfill site has about 100 to 300 feet height of garbage stacked over area of several hectors. Such a huge mass of garbage generates hundreds of kilograms of methane every day. Thousands of kilograms of methane remains trapped several feet below surface, waiting to ignite.

Large scale landfill fires indicate lack of following preventive measures:

  1. Scientific Waste Management: Effective segregation, material  recovery and composting of daily municipal solid waste. Government of India has established MSW Rules 2000 for effective management and handling of municipal solid waste. Machinery and Technology is now available to recycle up to 80% of municipal solid waste. This ensures that only 20% quantity of waste reaches landfill site & thereby reduce the fire risk and landfill emission by 80%.
    Municipal Solid Waste Management
  2. Cover the landfill with scientific layer of rock bed, geo-textile and soil. Drill methane capture wells in the landfill sites to collect underground methane to fire/explosion.landfill methane collection
  3. Methane Capture (and Flaring/ Waste to energy): The landfill gas must be captured using a scientifically proven methods to prevent landfill fires. Captured methane can be used for energy generation.
    Landfill gas methane capture
  4. Bio-remediation and scientific landfill site closure: Bio-remediation is the use of biological methods to degrade, disintegrate, transform and/or eliminate contaminants from municipal solid waste. Bio-remediation is a natural process that utilizes the normal life functions of bacteria, fungi & plants. Bio-remediation and scientific closure of landfill site is essential to prevent fire and emission of hazardous landfill gas.
    Landfill site closure

Every day millions of tons of solid waste is sent to landfill sites without scientific measures. In near future, lack of scientific waste management can lead to large scale fires similar to Deonar landfill site across India & globe.

About Author: Suhas Dixit is CEO & Director of Pyrocrat Systems LLP. Pyrocrat has established several waste management projects including 300TPD Municipal Solid Waste Management Facility at Navi Mumbai and Series of Waste Plastic/Tire to Diesel Projects 

Exclusive Interview: Researchers Remove Plastic Fork Lodged in Sea Turtle’s Nose

Plastic in our oceans—a problem much worse than we thought—is a major threat to marine life. Earlier this summer, turtle researcher Nathan Robinson helped remove a 4-inch plastic straw from a male olive ridley turtle’s nose. Not only did the disturbing footage go viral, it probably convinced a lot of people to reconsider using these single-use, non-biodegradable items. Read more

Centre to ask Delhi government to ensure ‘total prohibition’ on burning of garbage in the city

NEW DELHI: With no let up in the air pollution levels in the capital and particulate matter 2.5 still extremely high, the Centre is keeping a close watch on Delhi’s air quality and preparing to undertake a round of measures in Delhi and its vicinity immediately.

Top sources have told ET that the Central Pollution Control Board will ask the Delhi government to ensure “total prohibition” on burning of all garbage in the city and to ensure that dust emissions from construction sites are contained. These two have been identified as immediate and high priority actions imperative to stop Delhi’s air quality from dipping further. Read more


This Report is an update of the 2011 Earth Engineering Center (EEC) Report to the American Chemistry Council (ACC) which was based on U.S. 2008 data and quantified the energy and economic value of municipal solid wastes (MSW) and non-recycled plastics (NRP). The study presented in this Report is based on 2011 data, compiled in the EEC 2013 Survey of Waste Management in the U.S. and on MSW characterization studies conducted by several states. The 2013 EEC Survey reported that in 2011 the U.S. generated 389 million tons of MSW, of which 87.8 million tons were recycled, 24.6 million tons were composted, 29.5 million tons were used as fuel in WTE plants, and 247 million tons were landfilled. Between 2008 and 2011, the recycling rate of plastics increased by 21% to 2.66 million tons, due to higher recovery of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and highdensity polyethylene (HDPE) bottles, other HDPE and polypropylene (PP) rigid plastics, and HDPE and low density polyethylene (LDPE) films, bags, and wraps. However, despite the growth in both access to and types of plastics collected for recycling, some plastics cannot be economically recycled. For these non-recycled plastics (NRP), conversion to energy is preferred over landfilling, in accord with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) waste management hierarchy. The main objective of this study was to determine the quantities of non-recycled MSW and plastics that are available for converting to energy or fuel, nationally and state-by-state. In addition to MSW, the 2014 update study also included NRP contained in other waste streams that are disposed in MSW landfill Read more