How Digital Technologies Enable Efficient Waste Management

Computer-based technology continues to transform our lives and lead to innovation in industries crucial to the earth’s ecological balance. One such sector benefiting from new inventions is waste management, which is responsible for keeping communities clean through waste removal and recycling. This sector utilizes digital tools that work together to advance global sustainability efforts and ensure the smooth running of operations at waste management companies.

To learn more, here’s how digital technology enables efficient waste management:

Benefits of Digital Technologies in Waste Management

Management Through Cloud-Based Software

The waste management process has become more streamlined thanks to smart waste management software and cloud computing. These computer applications help in tracking, customer service, controlling, monitoring, scheduling, organizing, and optimizing waste collection and administration. They give a digitized outline of locations where waste needs to be managed. It means displaying real-time data on bin waste levels, dumpster truck routing, and overall waste inventory.

This technology can also be used in entire districts on a large scale or by a single waste collection company. The whole management operation can be done in a semi-automated process between a waste collector and an IT company, such as https://fusioncomputing.ca/ and similar ones for running and management. The information generated by these programs creates a large volume of data that requires cloud services to transmit and store. Thus, it becomes necessary to be on a cloud-based platform to maintain efficiency.

Pneumatic Sorting

Separating waste is essential to reducing the chances that its byproducts don’t end up in a landfill and pollute the environment. It’s also necessary to classify waste according to recyclable materials and those that need a different disposal method.

While waste management industries mostly still use manual labor to carry out this process, the ongoing development of digital technology is likely to change this in the form of robots. Industrial robotics is an emerging science where robots are created to use pneumatic or sensor-based sorting to deconstruct waste into its simplest parts.

waste-management-sweden

These robots use detectors and computerized image recognition to identify what rubbish can be dismantled to reuse or throw away its components. Doing this increases waste sorting efficiency and operational effectiveness by saving time, labor, and floor space in waste management plants.

Automation Through AI

Artificial intelligence can improve the waste management industry by providing solutions on how to optimize operations. These AI and neural networks can, among many things, use data to pinpoint the causes of waste within a particular sector. It then uses this information to configure the best possible model for a waste management company to reduce the amount of waste produced or give sustainable solutions on how to dispose of it.

For instance, an AI system can weigh food ingredients in a restaurant against usage frequency. Then, it can be used to determine how much product is needed to reduce waste and improve food waste management. Another AI application is through autonomous waste cleaning machines such as street sweepers. These processes are completed through automation and machine learning algorithms to minimize human involvement.

Smart Technology Products

It’s no secret that the internet of things is revolutionizing how people live. This constant connection of physical devices and goods to the internet and computer software also impacts waste management. Technology products such as smart bins, e-waste recycling kiosks, and waste level sensors have become commercially available for consumers, businesses, and high-density cities.

smart waste management

AI-based waste management systems can help in route optimization and waste disposal

These devices can process materials for recycling faster and eliminate the human error that comes with incorrect recycling. Sensors can detect the levels of waste in a dumpster or trashcan to inform waste management when bins need to be collected. Doing this maximizes resource use, leading to cleaner urban environments by preventing overflowing rubbish from polluting the surrounding area.

Data Analysis

Data analysis is key to utilizing digital technology in waste management optimization. Information collected through cloud services, smart technology, and AI can optimize waste management. It can be done by discovering patterns that lead to developing a more efficient business model, enhancing accuracy, and reducing costly errors.

For instance, data analysis can help identify better routes for refuse removal trucks or how to eliminate the amount of unrecyclable waste that mistakenly lands up in landfills. It can also calculate and estimate trends and the volume of waste produced within an area and evaluate how efficient the current management system is to make improvements where applicable.

Conclusion

Digital technology enables efficient waste management through computer software, data utilization, and artificial intelligence. These systems can be integrated and automated using smart devices that work together to improve operations such as waste sorting and waste level detection.

Furthermore, digital technology in waste management contributes to greater efficiency by using data analytics to discover trends and identify patterns that can be used to construct a better business model for the waste management company. In the end, although humans will always play a role in waste management, future technology will increasingly take over most of the labor involved.

What You Need to Know About Food Waste Management

Food waste is an untapped energy source that mostly ends up rotting in landfills, thereby releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Food waste is difficult to treat or recycle since it contains high levels of sodium salt and moisture, and is mixed with other waste during collection. Major generators of food wastes include hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, residential blocks, cafeterias, airline caterers, food processing industries, etc.

In United States, food waste is the third largest waste stream after paper and yard waste. Around 13 percent of the total municipal solid waste generated in the country is contributed by food scraps. According to USEPA, more than 35 million tons of food waste are thrown away into landfills or incinerators each year, which is around 40 percent of all food consumed in the country.

As far as United Kingdom is concerned, households throw away around 4.5 million tons of food each year. Food wastage in Canada causes 56.6 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions. These statistics are an indication of tremendous amount of food waste generated all over the world.

food_waste

Food Waste Management Strategy

The proportion of food waste in municipal waste stream is gradually increasing and hence a proper food waste management strategy needs to be devised to ensure its eco-friendly and sustainable disposal. The two most common methods for food waste recycling are:

  • Composting: A treatment that breaks down biodegradable waste by naturally occurring micro-organisms with oxygen, in an enclosed vessel or tunnel;
  • Anaerobic digestion (AD): A treatment that breaks down biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen, producing a renewable energy (biogas) that can be used to generate electricity and heat.

Currently, only about 3 percent of food waste is recycled throughout USA, mainly through composting. Composting provides an alternative to landfill disposal of food waste, however it requires large areas of land, produces volatile organic compounds and consumes energy. Consequently, there is an urgent need to explore better recycling alternatives.

Anaerobic digestion has been successfully used in several European and Asian countries to stabilize food wastes, and to provide beneficial end-products. Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Germany and England have led the way in developing new advanced biogas technologies and setting up new projects for conversion of food waste into energy.

biogas-enrichment

Of the different types of organic wastes available, food waste holds the highest potential in terms of economic exploitation as it contains high amount of carbon and can be efficiently converted into biogas and organic fertilizer. Food waste can either be used as a single substrate in a biogas plant, or can be co-digested with organic wastes like cow manure, poultry litter, sewage, crop residues, abattoir wastes, etc.

Food waste is one of the single largest constituent of municipal solid waste stream. Diversion of food waste from landfills can provide significant contribution towards climate change mitigation, apart from generating revenues and creating employment opportunities. Rising energy prices and increasing environmental pollution makes it more important to harness renewable energy from food wastes.

Anaerobic digestion technology is widely available worldwide and successful projects are already in place in several European as well as Asian countries which makes it imperative on waste generators and environmental agencies in USA to strive for a sustainable food waste management system.

10 Most Common Injuries in the Waste Management Sector

Waste management is a vital part of our lives and one which helps to keep our homes free from pests and disease. Employment within the waste management sector is usually secure and well paid, however, it’s not without its risks.

Personal injury solicitors have revealed that a significant number of the claims that they handle are on behalf of those working in waste management. So, just how dangerous is the job?

Keep reading to find out the 10 most common injuries in the waste management sector, and what they may mean for employees.

covid19-waste-management

1. Cuts and Abrasions

Waste management employees spend a lot of their time handling unwieldy wheely bins and guiding them into large metal trucks. Although these employees wear gloves and other protective clothing, having to work quickly in order to meet the demands of their schedules means that they are often subject to cuts, bruises and abrasions. While these are usually not serious, a number of these injuries will require a visit to A&E.

2. Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders are increasingly common among those working in the waste management industry; particularly back problems due to repeated bending and lifting.  In some cases, these injuries can be life changing and can result in early retirement in instances where the condition means that the employee is no longer able to do the job.

3. Skin Irritation

The official description of waste is ‘a composite mixture of different substances including endotoxins, organic dust and bio-aerosol stuffed with micro-organisms, and various toxic organic and inorganic chemicals’. This goes to show that waste is made up of all sorts of nasties which can cause skin irritations. Although not life threatening, these can certainly be unpleasant and can cause itching and soreness when waste employees come into contact with them.

4. Lung Conditions

A more serious byproduct of working in waste management is that of respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).  While these conditions can be managed to a certain extent, they are not curable and, particularly in the case of COPD, will progressively become worse and result in early death.

5. Being hit by a Motorist

Waste management employees are often working on busy streets and, because they tend to do their rounds early in the morning, they may be working in the dark during the winter. These conditions mean that bin men are sometimes at risk of being hit by motorists as they go about their work.

In 2018, a waste management employee in Slough was signed off work for eight weeks after being hit by a motorist who had not properly cleaned snow and ice from their windscreen.

6. Slips and Trips

Hard working waste management employees are out and about in all kinds of weather and, sometimes even the sturdiest, grippiest boots are no match for pavements and roads made slick by snow and ice. Every year, a large number of bin men suffer a form of injury through slipping or tripping during the course of their work.

7. Bacteremia

A less common injury, but a serious one nonetheless, is bacteremia. This is a dangerous infection which is caused by coming into contact with used hypodermic needles which have been carelessly disposed of.

Those suffering from this disease face a long recovery process and, often, early retirement. In Sussex in 2012, two binmen had their hands pierced by needles that had been incorrectly disposed of and had to face. As a result, they had to go through 6 months of medical checks.

Non-Hazardous and Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste

8.  Falling Objects

Falling objects can be a serious concern for bin men – both that of objects falling from their lorries and other factors from their surroundings. One such incident ended in tragedy in 2013 when a 55-year-old waste management worker was killed after being hit by a telegraph pole which his lorry had collided with. Poor visibility can often mean that waste workers are vulnerable to injury from falling objects.

9. Stress and Anxiety

Very few jobs can be considered stress-free, and waste management certainly isn’t one of them. As well as being required to stock to tight schedules on often understaffed routes, bin men also often have to contend with disgruntled customers taking their frustrations out on them. These issues can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression which can also have a knock-on effect on physical health.

10. Poor Weather Conditions

We’ve already mentioned weather earlier in this article as, if there’s one thing certain about the weather is that it cannot always be predicted accurately. While this final piece is, thankfully, not a hugely common one, it is nonetheless a risk.

In 2019, a California garbage truck was struck not once, but twice by lightning, setting the truck on fire. Happily, nobody was injured in the incident but stories like this one are a very real reminder of just how dangerous weather systems can be for the humble waste management worker.

Personal Injuries in the Waste Management Sector Are Rife

Without waste management employees, our lives would be constantly at risk of disease, not to mention bad smells. As such, it’s incredibly important that councils ensure that working conditions for these employees are as safe as possible, as well as taking the time to ensure your disposing of your waste correctly. in addition to protecting employee health, putting stringent measures in place for their safety will ensure the smooth running of the services and will help with retention of valued staff members.

Everything You Need to Know About PVC Recycling

PVC is one of the most widely used plastics worldwide. A major problem in the recycling of PVC is the high chlorine content in raw PVC and high levels of hazardous additives added to the polymer to achieve the desired material quality. As a result, PVC requires separation from other plastics before recycling. PVC products have an average lifetime of 30 years, with some reaching 50 or more years.  This means that more PVC products are reaching the end-of-life and entering the waste stream, and the amount is likely to increase significantly in the near future.

pvc-recycling

PVC Recycling Methods

Currently, PVC plastic is being recycled by either of the two ways:

  • Mechanical recycling – This involves mechanically treating the waste (e.g. grinding) to reduce it into smaller particles.  The resulting granules, called recyclate, can be melted and remolded into different products, usually the same product from which it came.
  • Feedstock recycling – Chemical processes such as pyrolysis, hydrolysis and heating are used to convert the waste into its chemical components.  The resulting products – sodium chloride, calcium chloride, hydrocarbon products and heavy metals to name a few – are used to produce new PVC, as feed for other manufacturing processes or as fuel for energy recovery.

In mechanical recycling, because no chemical reaction is involved, the recyclate retains its original composition. This poses a recycling challenge because PVC products, depending on their application, contain different additives.  For example, rigid PVC is unplasticized whereas flexible PVC is added plasticizers because this additive increases the plastic’s fluidity and thus, its flexibility. Even products used for the same application may still differ in composition if they have different manufacturers.

When different kinds of PVC waste are fed to a mechanical recycler, the resulting product’s composition is difficult to predict, which is problematic because most PVC products, even recycled ones, require a specific PVC content.  In order to produce a high-quality recylate, the feed ideally should not be mixed with other kinds of plastic and should have a uniform material composition.Material recycling is therefore more applicable for post-industrial waste than for post-consumer waste.

PVC-waste

Feedstock recycling is seen to be complementary to conventional mechanical recycling as it is able to treat mixed or unsorted PVC waste and recover valuable materials.  However, a study showed that feedstock recycling (or at least the two that was considered) incurred higher costs than landfilling, primarily due to the low value of the recovered products. This provides little incentive for recyclers to pursue PVC recycling.  This may change in the future as more stringent regulations to protect the environment are enacted.  Some countries in Europe have already banned PVCs from landfills and PlasticsEurope is targeting a “zero plastic to landfill” in Europe by 2020.

Post-industrial waste is relatively pure and comes from PVC production and installation, such as cut-offs from laying of cables or scraps from the installation of window frames.  These are easily recycled since they can be collected directly from processors or installers or even recycled by producers themselves as raw material to manufacture the same product.

Post-consumer waste contains mixed material and has been used for different applications.  These are products that have reached the end-of-life or are replaced due to damage, like pipes from underground, window frames being replaced for renovation and electric cables recovered from demolition. These would require further sorting and cleaning, adding cost to the recycling process.  The recyclate produced is usually of lower quality and consequently of decreased economic value.

Recent Developments

Europe is leading the way for a more sustainable use of PVC with programs, such as RecoVinyl and VinylPlus, where recycling is advanced as one of the ways to use resources more efficiently and to divert as much waste as possible from landfills. Recovinyl, created in 2003, is an initiative of the European PVC industry to advance the sustainable development of the PVC industry by improving production processes, minimise emissions, develop recycling technology and boost the collection and recycling of waste.

Having been successful in all of its goals, including an increase in recycling of PVC across Europe to over 240,000 tonnes a year, in 2011 the PVC industry redefined the role of Recovinyl as part of the ambitious new ten-year VinylPlus sustainable development programme. VinylPlus works in partnership with consumers, businesses, municipalities, waste management companies, recyclers and converter, as well as the European Commission and national and local governments. The goal is to certify those companies who recycle PVC waste and those accredited converting companies who purchase recyclate to manufacture new products and applications.

Even if some types of PVC recycling are not feasible or economically viable at present, it will likely be reversed in the future as governments, manufacturers, consumers and other stakeholders create programs that innovate and find ways to achieve a sustainable future for the PVC industry.

Waste Management in Iraq

Iraq is one of the most populous Arab countries with population exceeding 32 million. Rapid economic growth, high population growth, increasing individual income and sectarian conflicts have led to worsening problem of solid waste management problem in Iraq. Iraq generates around 31,000 tons of solid waste every day with per capita waste generation exceeding 1.4 kg per day. Baghdad alone produces more than 1.5 million tons of solid wastes each year.

iraq-wastes

Rapid increase in waste generation is putting tremendous strain on Iraqi waste handling infrastructure which have heavily damaged after decades of conflict and mismanagement. In the absence of modern and efficient waste handling and waste disposal infrastructure most of the wastes are disposed in unregulated landfills across Iraq, with little or no concern for both human health and environment. Spontaneous fires, groundwater contamination, surface water pollution and large-scale greenhouse gas emissions have been the hallmarks of Iraqi landfills.

The National Solid Waste Management Plan (NSWMP) for Iraq was developed in 2007 by collaboration of international waste management specialist. The plan contains the recommendations for development and which explains the background for decisions.

The plan states that Iraq will build 33 engineered landfills with the capacity of 600 million m3 in all of the 18 governorates in Iraq by 2027. In addition to constructing landfills the plan also focuses on the collection and transportation, disposable, recycling and reuses systems. Environment education was also taken into consideration to ensure provision of educational system which supports the participation of both communities and individuals in waste management in Iraq.

Besides Iraqi national waste management plan, the Iraqi ministry of environment started in 2008 its own comprehensive development program which is part of the ministry of environment efforts to improve environmental situation in Iraq. Ministry of Municipalities and Public Work, in collaboration with international agencies like UN Habitat, USAID, UNICEF and EU, are developing and implementing solid waste management master plans in several Iraqi governorates including Kirkuk, Anbar, Basra, Dohuk, Erbil, Sulaimaniya and Thi Qar.

Recent Progress

Kirkuk was the first city in Iraq to benefit from solid waste management program when foreign forces initiated a solid waste management program for the city in 2005 to find an environmentally safe solution to the city’s garbage collection and disposal dilemma. As a result the first environmentally engineered and constructed landfill in Iraq was introduced in Kirkuk In February 2007. The 48-acre site is located 10 miles south of Kirkuk, with an expected lifespan of 10–12 years and meets both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and European Union Landfill Directive standards.

The Iraqi city of Basra also benefited from international aid with the completion of the first landfill that is compliant with international environmental standards has been completed. Basra solid waste management program developed by UNICEF will not only restore efficient waste collection systems in the city but will also create informal “recycling schools” that will help in spreading environmental awareness in in the city’s society by launching a campaign to educate the public about effective waste disposal practices.

In addition, Basra city program plans to establish a regional treatment and disposal facility and initiate street sweeping crews. Basrah city waste management program is part of the UNICEF program supported by the European Union to develop Iraq’s water and sanitation sector.

Erbil’s solid waste management master plan has also been developed by UNICEF with funding from the European Union. Recently a contract was signed by the Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Municipalities and Tourism and a Canadian company to recycle the city’s garbage which will involve the construction of two recycling plants in the eastern and western outskirts of Erbil.

UNICEF has also developed a master plan to improve the management of solid waste in Dohuk Governorate which has been finalized in June 2011. Solid waste management master plans for Anbar, Sulaimaniya and Thi Qar governorates are also a part of UNICEF and EU efforts to attaining Iraq’s Millennium Development Goal targets of ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015.

Even though all of the effort by the international organizations are at local level and still not enough to solve solid waste management problem in Iraq, however these initiatives have been able to provide a much needed information regarding the size of the issue and valuable lessened learned used later by the Iraqi government to develop the Iraqi national waste management plan with the support of organizations such as UN Habitat, UNDG Iraq Trust Fund and USAID. The Iraqi national waste management plan is expected to ease the solid waste management problem in Iraq in the near future.

Zena Fly- Feeding the World on Insect

Meeting an ever increasing demand for food/feed/energy and managing waste have become two of the major global challenges. The global world population is estimated to increase from 7.3 billion in 2015 to 9.7 billion in 2050. Approximately one third of the global food produced for human composition is wasted. Currently, approximately 1.3 billion metric tons of waste are disposed with significant environmental impact as far as greenhouse gases and economic footprints and the current waste management practices are not costly sustainable.

zena-fly-waste-management

Increase in Global Energy Demand

Global energy demand is estimated to increase from 524 Quadrillion btu in 2010, to 820 Quadrillion btu by 2040 (a 56% increase). Similarly, global demand of food and animal products are projected to increase by 70-100% and 50-70%, respectively, by 2050. To cope up with the demand for animal products, a substantial increase in nutritious animal feed is needed.

On one hand, the production of conventional feedstuff such as soybean meal and fish meal is reported as the major contributor to land occupation, ocean depletion, climate change, water and energy consumption. Moreover, such conventional animal feedstuff are not only limited in supply but also are becoming more expensive over the years. Additionally, there is an already strong and increasing competition for resources such as food, feed and biofuel production.

Need for alternative non-conventional source of food, feed, and fuel

Thus there is a pressing need for identifying and exploring the potential of alternative non-conventional source of food, feed, and fuel, which are economically viable, environmentally friendly, and socially acceptable.

By 2030 the Bio-based Economy is expected to have grown significantly. A pillar of this is biorefining, the sustainable processing of biomass into a spectrum of marketable products and energy. To satisfy this demand biorefineries need to be better integrated, flexible and operating more substantially. This means that a major yield, more efficient use of nutrients and water and greater pest and disease resistance should be achieve.

Zena Fly: A Startup Worth Watching

In this context an Italian-based start-up, Zena Fly, designed an innovative process for the future integrated biorefinery by mimicking nature’s ability. In fact, Zena Fly utilizes the natural insect life cycle to manage large quantity of organic waste produced in urban and industrial context, in order to generate sustainable and valuable by-products. The project of three young entrepreneurs foresees a combined bio-refinery where waste is turned into high-quality by-products by the anaerobic insect digestion.

The Concept

The basic concept is to convert waste into high-valuable products utilizing the black soldier flies (H. illucens), a now globally distributed insect. With a modern technique, the typical insect life cycle of these insects can be utilized in order to manage urban and industrial waste. The voracious larvae can reduce by more than 40-70% (based on the nature of the substrate-waste) the substrate where reared (waste) within 12-14 days.

From the anaerobic waste digestion, large quantity of fine protein meal for feed composition (more than 50-60% in protein), fat, fertilizing oil and other by-products of great interest such as chitin, and high-quality biofuel are then extracted.

Since the adult fly do not feed, and do not fly around for feeding, these animals are exceptionally valuable from a sanitary perspective (larvae has been demonstrate to reduce/eliminate E.coli and Salmonella).

Business Model

Zena Fly business model foresees to replicate their integrated biorefineries next to any waste management companies or industrial production areas where large quantity of waste need to be reduced and transformed. This is a win/win operation, where the waste management cost would be cut in half and the process will generate appealing opportunities for investments in a market where the increasing demand is already way higher than the products availability.

Zena Fly is now seeking for the right partner-investor in order to scale up quickly. For more information, please visit www.zena-fly.com or email us on info@zena-fly.com

Comparison of MSW-to-Energy Processes

MSW-to-Energy is the use of thermochemical and biochemical technologies to recover energy, usually in the form of electricity, steam and other fuels, from urban wastes. The main categories of MSW-to-energy technologies are physical technologies, which process waste to make it more useful as fuel; thermal technologies, which can yield heat, fuel oil, or syngas from both organic and inorganic wastes; and biological technologies, in which bacterial fermentation is used to digest organic wastes to yield fuel. These new technologies can reduce the volume of the original waste by 90%, depending upon composition and use of outputs.

Components of MSW-to-Energy Systems

  1. Front-end MSW preprocessing
  2. Conversion unit (reactor or anaerobic digester)
  3. Gas cleanup and residue treatment plant
  4. Energy recovery plant (optional)
  5. Emissions clean up

Incineration

  • Combustion of raw MSW, moisture less than 50%
  • Sufficient amount of oxygen is required to fully oxidize the fuel
  • Combustion temperatures are in excess of 850oC
  • Waste is converted into CO2 and water concern about toxics (dioxin, furans)
  • Any non-combustible materials (inorganic such as metals, glass) remain as a solid, known as bottom ash (used as feedstock in cement and brick manufacturing)
  • Air pollution control system for fly ash, bottom ash, particulates etc.
  • Needs high calorific value waste to keep combustion process going, otherwise requires high energy for maintaining high temperatures

Anaerobic Digestion

  • Well-known biochemical technology for organic fraction of MSW and sewage sludge.
  • Biological conversion of biodegradable organic materials in the absence of oxygen at mesophilic or thermophilic temperatures.
  • Residue is stabilized organic matter that can be used as soil amendment
  • Digestion is used primarily to reduce quantity of sludge for disposal / reuse
  • Methane gas is generated which is used for heat and power generation.

Gasification

  • Can be seen as between pyrolysis and combustion (incineration) as it involves partial oxidation.
  • Exothermic process (some heat is required to initialize and sustain the gasification process).
  • Oxygen is added but at low amounts not sufficient for full oxidation and full combustion.
  • Temperatures are above 650oC
  • Main product is syngas, typically has net calorific value of 4 to 10 MJ/Nm3
  • Other product is solid residue of non-combustible materials (ash) which contains low level of carbon

Pyrolysis

  • Thermal degradation of organic materials through use of indirect, external source of heat
  • Temperatures between 300 to 850oC are maintained for several seconds in the absence of oxygen.
  • Product is char, oil and syngas composed primarily of O2, CO, CO2, CH4 and complex hydrocarbons.
  • Syngas can be utilized for energy production or proportions can be condensed to produce oils and waxes
  • Syngas typically has net calorific value (NCV) of 10 to 20 MJ/Nm

Plasma Gasification

  • Use of electricity passed through graphite or carbon electrodes, with steam and/or oxygen / air injection to produce electrically conducting gas (plasma)
  • Temperatures are above 3000oC
  • Organic materials are converted to syngas composed of H2, CO
  • Inorganic materials are converted to solid slag
  • Syngas can be utilized for energy production or proportions can be condensed to produce oils and waxes

MSW-to-energy technologies can address a host of environmental issues, such as land use and pollution from landfills, and increasing reliance on fossil fuels. In many countries, the availability of landfill capacity has been steadily decreasing due to regulatory, planning and environmental permitting constraints. As a result, new approaches to waste management are rapidly being written into public and institutional policies at local, regional and national levels.

Composting in Qatar: An Overview

Composting in Qatar is mainly done at the Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre (DSWMC) in Mesaieed, which houses the largest composting facility in the country and one of the largest in the world.  The waste that enters the plant initially goes through anaerobic digestion, which produces biogas that can power the facility’s gas engine and generators, followed by aerobic treatment which yields the final product.

Two types of compost are generated: Grade A (compost that comes from green waste, such as yard/park trimmings, leftovers from kitchen or catering services, and wastes from markets) and Grade B (compost produced from MSW).  The plant started its operation in 2011 and when run at full capacity is able to process 750 tons of waste and produce 52 tons of Grade A compost, 377 tons of Grade B compost, liquid fertilizer which is composed of 51 tons of Grade A compost and 204 tons of Grade B compost, and 129 tons of biogas.

benefits-composting

This is a significant and commendable development in Qatar’s implementation of its solid waste management plan, which is to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover from waste, and to avoid disposing in landfills as much as possible.  However, the large influx of workers to Qatar in the coming years as the country prepares to host the World Cup in 2022 is expected to substantially increase solid waste generation and apart from its investments in facilities like the composting plant and in DSWMC in general, the government may have to tap into the efforts of organizations and communities to implement its waste management strategy.

Future Outlook

Thankfully, several organizations recognize the importance of composting in waste management and are raising awareness on its benefits.  Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) has been actively promoting composting through its Solid Waste Interest Group.  Last year, they were one of the implementers of the Baytna project, the first Passivhaus experiment in the country.

This project entails the construction of an energy-efficient villa and a comparative study will be performed as to how the carbon footprint of this structure would compare to a conventional villa.  The occupants of the Passivhaus villa will also be made to implement a sustainable waste management system which includes composting of food waste and garden waste, which is meant to lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to landfilling.

Qatar Foundation is also currently developing an integrated waste management system for the entire Education City and the Food Services group is pushing for composting to be included as a method to treat food and other organic waste.  And many may not know this but composting can be and has been done by individuals in their own backyard and can even be done indoors with the right equipment.

Katrin Scholz-Barth, previous president of SustainableQatar, a volunteer-based organization that fosters sustainable culture through awareness, skills and knowledge, is an advocate of composting and has some great resources on how to start and maintain your own composting bin as she has been doing it herself.

A simple internet search will also reveal that producing compost at home is a relatively simple process that can be achieved with minimal tools.  At present, very few families in Qatar are producing their own compost and Scholz-Barth believes there is much room for improvement.

As part of its solid waste management plan as stated in the National Development Strategy for 2011-2016, Qatar aims to maintain domestic waste generation at 1.6 kg per capita per day.  This will probably involve encouraging greater recycling and reuse efforts and the reduction of waste from its source.

It would also be worthwhile to include programs that will promote and boost composting efforts among institutions, organizations and individuals, encouraging them with the fact that apart from its capability of significant waste diversion from landfills, composting can also be an attractive source of income.

Note: The article is being republished with the permission of our collaborative partner EcoMENA. The original article can be viewed at this link.

Food Waste Management in UK

Food waste in the United Kingdom is a matter of serious environmental, economic and social concern that has been attracting widespread attention in recent years. According to ‘Feeding the 5K’ organisation, 13,000 slices of crusts are thrown away every day by a single sandwich factory. More recently, Tesco, one of the largest UK food retailers, has published its sustainability report admitting that the company generated 28,500 tonnes of food waste in the first six months of 2013. TESCO’s report also state that 47% of the bakery produced is wasted. In terms of GHG emissions, DEFRA estimated that food waste is associated with 20 Mt of CO2 equivalent/year, which is equivalent to 3% of the total annual GHG emissions.

Food-Waste-UK

Globally, 1.2 to 2 billion tonnes (30%-50%) of food produced is thrown away before it reaches a human stomach. Food waste, if conceived as a state, is responsible for 3.3 Bt-CO2 equivalent/year, which would make it the third biggest carbon emitter after China and USA.

What makes food waste an even more significant issue is the substantially high demand for food which is estimated to grow 70% by 2050 due to the dramatic increase of population which is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2075. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address food waste as a globally challenging issue which should be considered and tackled by sustainable initiatives.

A War on Food Waste

The overarching consensus to tackle the food waste issue has led to the implementation of various policies. For instance, the European Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) set targets to reduce organic waste disposed to landfill in 2020 to 35% of that disposed in 1995 (EC 1999).

More recently, the European Parliament discussed a proposal to “apply radical measures” to halve food waste by 2025 and to designate the 2014 year as “the European Year Against Food Waste”. In the light of IMechE’s report (2013), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in cooperation with FAO has launched the Save Food Initiative in an attempt to reduce food waste generated in the global scale.

In the UK, WRAP declared a war on food waste by expanding its organic waste programme in 2008 which was primarily designed to “establish the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable ways of diverting household food waste from landfill that leads to the production of a saleable product”. DEFRA has also identified food waste as a “priority waste stream” in order to achieve better waste management performance.

In addition to governmental policies, various voluntary schemes have been introduced by local authorities such as Nottingham Declaration which aims to cut local CO2 emissions 60% by 2050.

Sustainable Food Waste Management

Engineering has introduced numerous technologies to deal with food waste. Many studies have been carried out to examine the environmental and socio-economic impacts of food waste management options. This article covers the two most preferable options; anaerobic digestion and composting.

In-vessel composting (IVC) is a well-established technology which is widely used to treat food waste aerobically and convert it into a valuable fertilizer. IVC is considered a sustainable option because it helps by reducing the amount of food waste landfilled. Hence, complying with the EU regulations, and producing a saleable product avoiding the use of natural resources.

IVC is considered an environmentally favourable technology compared with other conventional options (i.e. landfill and incineration). It contributes less than 0.06% to the national greenhouse gas inventories. However, considering its high energy-intensive collection activities, the overall environmental performance is “relatively poor”.

Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is a leading technology which has had a rapidly growing market over the last few years. AD is a biologically natural process in which micro-organisms anaerobically break down food waste and producing biogas which can be used for both Combined Heat & Power (CHP) and digestate that can be used as soil fertilizers or conditioners. AD has been considered as the “best option” for food waste treatment. Therefore, governmental and financial support has been given to expand AD in the UK.

AD is not only a food waste treatment technology, but also a renewable source of energy. For instance, It is expected that AD would help the UK to meet the target of supplying 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Furthermore, AD technology has the potential to boost the UK economy by providing 35,000 new jobs if the technology is adopted nationally to process food waste. This economic growth will significantly improve the quality of life among potential beneficiaries and thus all sustainability elements are considered.

Best Ways To Reduce Waste

We deal with waste every day and its becoming problematic. It is our responsibility to become aware of our own personal impact to the environment. Even if we hire a good rubbish clearance company to remove our waste, still is our duty to think about the consequences and to try following some good methods and produce less waste.

top ways to reduce waste

1. Reuse clothes for cleaning clothes

Some of our old clothes can be usable. So instead of throwing them away, you can reuse them as cleaning rags to wipe up messes and clean surfaces. You can use them all the time, after cleaning, toss them in the laundry and they can be used again.

2. Try buying unpacked food

Fresh fruits and veggies are normally obtainable unpacked in the produce section, and you can also buy package-free products in grocery stores. You can also bring your own reusable bags or containers, to purchase and avoid plastic bags. Most food these days is wrapped in plastic.

sustainability-food-supply-chain

Plastic bags need to be a thing of the past, so instead of using keep in mind to bring your own bag. Cotton bags are perfect for loose fruit and veggies. Don’t be nervous to say no to single use plastic. Click here for some simple ways to avoid plastic.

3. Shop local

Local markets habitually use a lot less plastic to cover their foods. So try planning your daily shop to visit the local farmer’s market before heading to the supermarket. It’s a great way to reduce waste, as well as experience a sense of community from shopping locally.

4. Avoid single-use items

Try avoiding items single-use items. Instead replace them with reusable, or multi-purpose options, simply by saying no.

5. No straws

Avoid that extra plastic and try saying no to straws when you drink. When ordering a drink, respectfully ask for no straw. Adults, don’t really need to drink their drinks through straws. One-use straws suck. Try teaching your kids to drink without a straw. And If you don’t want to give up straws totally, you can try and use a reusable straw instead.

reusable-straw

Many manufacturers are replacing plastic drinking straws with titanium.

6. Recycle

There are numerous people out there still not recycling. Make sure you’re recycling everything at home, as well as taking that extra effort to make sure items that aren’t collected from your home are taken to recycle at your local dump.

Recycling keeps things out of the landfill with the purpose to transform used materials into new products that can be used again. Recycling right means keeping material out of the landfill, and also decreasing uncleanness in the recycling stream.

7. Stop buying unnecessary items

How to reduce waste? Simply stop buying that much stuff. When you buy new things, you don’t do anything but increase the amount of waste. Just try to buy what you need, and also appreciate what you already have.

8. Repair your old items

Before you buy something new to replace that item that has cracked, see if you can fix it. Do whatever you can do to repair it, and don’t get sucked into this throwaway culture.