Climate analysis of Subcoal® in coal-fired power plants

Subcoal International asked CE Delft to evaluate the climate impact and overall environmental impact of burning Subcoal in coal-fired power plants. Subcoal pellets are produced from paper-plastic waste streams, such as rejects from the paper industry and residual paper-plastic fractions from sorting plants. By means of life cycle analysis, the climate impact of burning Subcoal in coal-fired plants (Subcoal route) was compared with that of burning paper-plastic waste (the raw material of Subcoal) in a waste incineration plant (WIP route).

The Subcoal route reduces CO2 emissions by 645-1,263 kg per tonne of Subcoal compared with the WIP route, depending on the scenario (Subcoal replacing 100% coal or also wood pellets) . For coal-fired power plants  this means that co-firing 10% of Subcoal reduces the life cycle climate emissions by 3-7%. The overall environmental impact of the two routes was assessed using the ReCiPe method. The Subcoal route scores better on 12 of the 18 environmental indicators evaluated, and on the overall single ReCiPe score as well.