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No matter how extensive the know-how and how modern the technology, there are still some substances that cannot be recycled for reuse. These also include substances and raw materials which were not designed to be recycled. These materials can be treated in a different way: namely to generate energy. The electricity, heat and process steam produced from non-recyclable waste are available 365 days a year, no matter what the weather – and such operations also make good environmental sense.
Demand for energy is growing all around the world. Our planet’s supplies of fossil fuels will not, however, last forever. Generating energy from waste reduces our consumption of natural gas, crude oil and coal. Indeed, waste to energy is considered to be just as important as materials recycling when it comes to some types of hazardous industrial waste. The by-products of all thermal treatment operations contain components that can be recycled and reused. Metals can be recovered from the ash and gypsum from the filter dust; the slag can be used as substitute aggregate – all of which help conserve our supplies of primary raw materials.
Recycling sewage sludge to produce energy is a further way of combating climate change and conserving natural re-sources. Dried sludge is a good substitute for fossil fuels such as brown coal or natural gas. What’s more, sewage sludge ash contains high levels of phosphorus which REMONDIS is able to recover with its patented processes.
Looking around the globe, though, there are still many regions that do not have suitable plants for transforming waste into energy. In fact, there are some that do not even have an infrastructure in place for handling hazardous waste safely. International cooperation work is needed here to keep the people and their environment safe – for example by removing hazardous materials from illegal dumping sites so they can be properly disposed of using state-of-the-art technology. Or by transporting the materials to facilities which have the technological know-how, set-up and experience to deal with them. At the end of the day, we all share the same biosphere and hazardous situations and events should not be tolerated no matter how far away they may be from us.
REMONDIS has a share in a number of municipal waste incineration plants across Germany which provide their respective regions with energy. The company transforms industrial waste which is unsuitable for materials recycling into alternative fuels with a defined calorific value. What’s more, it operates waste-to-energy incineration plants for treating hazardous materials – such as SAVA in Brunsbüttel. This plant is one of the most modern and most environmentally friendly of its kind in Europe. The REMONDIS Group is also helping to drive forward waste-to-energy operations abroad, e.g. in Singapore.