Integrating Energy Recovery into Solid Waste Management Systems

Countries France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden


Dr Inge Johansson
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden
Box 87,
SE-501 15 Boras

Tel:  +46 (0)10 516 58 64
Fax: +46 (0)33 13 19 79


1.         Rationale and Objectives

(a)  Rationale

All countries produce waste, although the composition differs, depending on local factors. However, most country statistics show that a significant proportion of their household, commercial and industrial waste is of biomass origin. For many IEA Bioenergy Agreement countries this is important, as the biogenic fraction of waste is regarded as renewable and included in their renewable energy targets

In selecting methodologies to treat waste decision makers have a number of needs: they want to achieve efficient use of resources (including waste reduction, re-use and recycling) and they want to ensure appropriate treatment of the residues. They also want to do this cost effectively, without adding to environmental impacts and with carbon emissions in mind. Additionally many countries require decision makers to observe a waste hierarchy in which actions to reduce, re-use and recycle waste take priority over recovery and stabilisation, with disposal only for those fractions left after treatment.

IEA Bioenergy Agreement Task 36 aims to enable discussion of these topical and important issues. Energy from waste plants are expensive and may be in use for 20 years or more. It is very useful to pool experience to ensure that policy and decision makers can benefit from knowledge from elsewhere. Task 36 has provided case studies on plants, including gasification plants; supported events on key issues (such as a recent workshop on solid recovered fuel); and in 2010 it published a guide to energy from waste aimed at decision makers.

(b) Objectives

To collect, analyse, share, and disseminate best practice technical and strategic non-technical information on integration of energy recovery into solid waste management, leading to improved availability of information to decision makers and to increased acceptance and performance in terms of environment, costs, and reliability.



2.         Scope of the Task


Within the three-year timescale of the Task, the Work Programme will include:

(a)     The Participants will have R&D programmes within their countries in order to meet the above objective;

(b)     The Participants will carry out co-operative research work towards reaching the objective described in paragraph 1(b) above, based on the national R&D programmes referred to in sub-paragraph (a) above;

(c)        The Programme of Work has been developed in consultation with the Participants. This process began in the previous Task period. This consultation ensures that the work programme is of direct interest to current Participants yet also has the potential to attract new members. The work programme includes the following:

–         Task meetings to exchange results from relevant national R&D programmes;

–         Field trips associated with the Task meetings, including visits to state of the art facilities to view improvements in efficiency in waste combustion systems.

–         International workshops associated with the Task meeting, to cover waste derived fuels, factors influencing the development of waste to energy plants and the impacts of changes in the management of waste plants on performance.

–         Specific actions resulting in discussions of

    1. Recent and future trends to convert solid waste into liquid fuels and other commodities, including examination of waste feedstocks, technologies, applications and drivers. This work will be done in collaboration with Task 33.
    2. Examination of the role that EfW has to play in a circular economy, including the recovery of materials and by-products from waste.
    3. This will examine how energy recovery can be included in a fully integrated waste management system to close the resources circle and how waste refineries might be developed.
    4. Transboundary shipments of waste to be used in energy recovery. This work will be done with Task 40.
    5. Latest developments in waste derived fuels, including solid recovered fuel (SRF), with the intention of providing information for decision makers; this topic will also cover current trends in the use of commercial and industrial waste as alternative feedstock to MSW.

–         Information exchange with IEA Bioenergy Task 33 as indicated above. This would facilitate discussion on a range of aspects impacting on conversion of solid waste to liquid fuels, including technologies, markets, feedstocks, policy etc. The Task is in discussion with Task 33 on the potential to do a joint project in this area.

–         A joint seminar with Task 32 on the topic of challenging biomass fuels is under discussion.  Task 36 will contribute to presentations on waste derived fuels and solid recovered fuels for this seminar.

–         A joint project and workshop with Task 40 on the trade of EfW fuels.

–         Strategic project – see outline below

–         Information exchange with other IEA Bioenergy Tasks and other international networks on relevant energy from waste technologies worldwide;

–         Closer links to the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).  ISWA are working in related areas and have asked Task 36 to participate in their Task Force on Resource Management.

–         Closer links to European Recovered Fuels Organisation (ERFO) (we are currently discussing this with them).

–         ExCo interaction and support

  1. Deliverables
  • A summary report on conversion of solid waste to liquid fuels;
  • A workshop and summary report on transboundary shipments of waste (in particular refuse derived fuels) for energy recovery (with Task 40);
  • A workshop on the integration of energy into the circular economy
  • An update report on the situation regarding solid recovered fuels; and
  • A review of the web site and the way it is used (budget permitting).

The key audience for this information will be policy and decision makers involved in waste, energy, and environmental areas at Government and local/regional level. In order to cover the wide range of interest and to get greater benefit from the Task meetings a theme will be selected for each meeting, associated with specific topics that have been identified as priorities by the current Task members. These topics will form the basis of a workshop at each meeting, which will be open to wider participation than the Task on the basis that participants must actively contribute to the workshop. Each IEA participant will present on a related subject of relevance to their work. The proceedings of these workshops will then be published on our web site.