Innovation in waste processing technologies: an audit

There are numerous new waste processing technologies under development or already on the market for converting waste into reusable products and (chemical) materials (Waste-to-Chemicals, W2C) or for high-efficiency waste-to-energy conversion.

At-source and post-consumer separation of plastics, paper and textiles followed by mechanical recycling is currently carried out in many Dutch municipalities and is yielding a growing volume of useful resources. In various links in the chain of at-source and post-consumer separation there is considerable loss of plastic fractions that are hard to recycle mechanically and mixed paper/plastic fractions that are presently still sent to Waste-to-Energy (W2E) plants. This study assesses whether these losses from the mechanical recycling chains have useful potential for chemical feedstock production.

To this end five technologies were examined: conventional pyrolysis, integrated hydropyrolysis (two variants), low-temperature gasification and medium-temperature gasification (Enerkem). The results show that all these W2C technologies substantially outperform an average W2E plant in terms of CO2 emissions. With several technologies more inputs are required (O2, H2, energy), but this is offset by production of additional syngas or pyrolysis oil.

This publications is only available in Dutch.