We know what most people think about the mass incineration of plastic waste and so on. It is considered outdated, inefficient, and terrible to the environment. But today's advanced heat treatment technology is a smarter solution for managing plastic waste. Recycling of plastic waste and incineration for energy production is not a real answer to the growing problem of disposing of plastic waste. In particular, the problem of disposal of plastic waste is more serious for countries that do not have the financial means to install large plastic waste incineration facilities. They must provide an environment where they can incinerate plastic garbage safely and cleanly. They have no means other than landfilling or open dumping. We should pay attention to plastic garbage that is not even recyclable in areas where waste-to-energy facilities can not be installed. The increase in such plastics is a clear and real environmental hazard. It is time to think differently about local incineration.
Disposal costs vary greatly. In some countries, waste disposal is informal and therefore not officially accounted for. In high-income countries, disposal costs are better accounted for and are typically between US$50 and US$100 per tonne. Recycling costs for high-income countries are often comparable to the cost of landfilling. Recycling is sometimes made cheaper when landfills are taxed or when limited capacity is available and market prices for landfilling increase. Construction and operation of anaerobic digestion and incineration systems require a large budget and high management and technical capacity, and the technologies are rarely used for municipal waste in low- and middle-income countries.
The relatively small amount of energy generated with incineration enabled the incinerator industry to brand themselves as “waste-to-energy”facilities. “We refer to incineration as ‘wasted energy’ or ‘waste-of-energy’ because this process really burns up more energy than it produces.” When accounting for the embodied, life-cycle energy — that is, the amount of energy used to source, manufacture, and transport materials for consumption — of solid waste burned at incinerators, there is a net energy loss. —Neil Seldman, co-founder of ILSR and director of ILSR’s Waste to Wealth initiative