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Why WRSI

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  • Sustainable Waste Management
  • Key Facts & Benefits
  • Waste management practices
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • WRSI Philosophy

    Sustainable Waste Management

  • “It is not in the interest of WRSI to replace current landfill practices with Thermal Recycling® but to make Thermal Recycling® part of an integrated sustainable waste management solution.”

    Landfilling is all but sustainable.  All landfills leak (sooner or later), while releasing at least 50% (even at best practices) of the hazardous greenhouse gas methane which is 21 times as potent as CO2.  Today’s landfill fees will only cover day to day operations.  In Europe the landfill fees are two to ten times as high as in the US so future generations are not overly burdened by the legacy we leave them with.  Often these fees are supported by taxes posed on each ton disposed of in a landfill.

    However, Thermal Recycling® is not designed to inhibit or even reduce recycling nor is it an excuse to continue or foster our waste management practices which don’t favor waste reduction and producer responsibility.  It was designed to deliver the best available technology contributing significantly to climate protection in Germany, Europe and worldwide.  MVR, WRSI’s state of the art model facility successfully operating in Hamburg, Germany since 1999 is fully endorsed by the European Union and the German Green Party and serves as their model facility as it utilizes all products created in the process with zero landfilling.  

    WRSI designed its model based on German Waste Management Practices that evolved over the past 20 years to the point where Germany now has the highest recycling rate for a country in the world with over 60%.  The following principals should be considered (excerpts of Dr. Helmut Schnurer’s power point presentation in Sacramento April 17th, 2006 in Sacramento, California and Seattle and King County, Washington State April 20th, 2006.  Dr. Schnurer retired 10/2005 after serving for the past 20 years as Head of the Waste Management Directorate of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment):

  •   Implementing the vision of the 1992 world summit of Rio on sustainable development

             èClosed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act (CSC-/WMA) of 1996 in Germany (China: Circular Economy)

             First priority now on substitution of resources (raw materials for production or secondary fuels for energy; priority should be given to the more environmentally friendly way)

             Recycling must be environmentally sound, economically reasonable and socially viable

             Disposal of wastes only, if recycling or recovery is not possible

     

    The cooperation of industry, policy makers and environmental groups as well as the general public are of fundamental importance to get this accomplished as it is a difficult task:

             Many end-of-life products cannot be or are not recycled presently

             Consumers or waste management companies have little chances to improve this situation

             Only the producer can change his products è make them recyclable

             Driving force should be competition and market

             Therefore: internalisation of external costs into prices

             Product responsibility laid down in the CSC-/WMA

             Implementation by legal ordinances, voluntary agreements and some individual activities

     

    For example the guiding principals for packaging materials in Germany are:

             German Packaging Ordinance from 1991 covers

             Sales Packaging

             Secondary Packaging

             Transport Packaging and

             Any packaging material

             Responsibility for producer, filler or retailer to take back and recycle (extended producer responsibility)

             Establishment of separate collection and recycling systems by industry

             For sales packaging from households and similar sources: Dual System with Green Dot label (at the beginning a monopolistic system)

             Now growing competition by alternative systems

             Minimum quotas between 60 and 75% for all packaging materials (achieved, even for plastics!)

     

    But, not all waste can be recycled or recovered; at least not presently!

     

    What should we do with the remaining residual waste?

     

    Why landfill of not recyclable wastes is not a good solution:

             Mixed waste contains organic as well as hazardous substances:

             Production of landfill gas (only 50% can be collected and treated; the remaining 50% are a hazard to climate)

             Production of leachate (long term collection and treatment is necessary – which is expensive)

             Engineered barriers will not work for ever but fail in ???

             Landfill shifts problems to the future

             Remediation of old landfills may be necessary (problem for future generations) – but how?

             On the long term, landfill is the most expensive „solution“ and the contrary of sustainability

     

    Wastes must be treated before landfilling:

             Goals:

             Organic substances have to be mineralized

             Soluble hazardous substances have to be destroyed or extracted or converted into stable condition

             Solution:

             Thermal treatment destroys organic matter

             Thermal treatment extracts soluble substances or transfers them into stable condition

             Mechanical-biological treatment (alternative to incineration) needs thermal treatment for high calorific residues

             Additional advantage:  substitution of energy

     

    Proper Waste Management contributes to sustainable development:

             Recycling avoids negative impact to the environment and saves resources (the use of BAT will avoid sham recycling)

             No land filling of untreated wastes opens the way for further savings of resources

             Energy recovery (waste to energy) or mechanical-biological treatment contributes to substitution of primary resources: raw materials for production and fossil fuel for power production

             Reduction of CO2 emissions contributes to climate protection

     

    With those principals in mind we feel comfortable moving forward to pursue the non-recyclable, non avoidable waste stream by replacing landfilling with Thermal Recycling®.


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    Key Facts & Benefits
    Much is done to protect wildlife, marine life and citizens. However, even at best efforts not all municipal solid waste (MSW) can be avoided or recycled. In keeping with one’s Cities and/or Counties environmental stewardship focus, the remaining MSW can not be landfilled but should be disposed of through Waste to Energy or Thermal Recycling®. Here are the reasons why:

    • WTE serves over 300,000,000 people worldwide with over 600 facilities
    • WTE facilities currently power over 2 million homes in the U.S.
    • WTE serves two key public needs: Environmentally sound, reliable solid waste disposal and considered a clean, reliable and renewable source of energy
    • WTE reduces our dependency on foreign resources such as oil and natural gas
    • WTE is a necessity in a sustainable society offering significant economic benefits today and most of all for future generations vs. landfilling.
    • WTE significantly reduces greenhouse gases (GHG). For every two tons of MSW disposed of in WTE versus landfilling, GHG is reduced by one ton. Current U.S. WTE facilities reduce CO2 by 33 million metric tons annually.
    • WTE’s release of dioxin and furans is not detectable thus no longer a threat.
    • WTE communities recycling rates are almost 20% higher than non-WTE communities.
    • WTE boosts the local economy by offering significantly more local construction, management and operation jobs than, for example, a rail transfer station
    • WTE is recognized by the EPA, DOE and many other organizations as a cleaner source of energy than energy produced by even natural gas.
    • WTE enables local government to retain control over the waste management system used by the community
    • WTE, unlike even the most sophisticated landfills, does not leak any elements into the ground such as heavy metals and dioxins, which have serious affects on our health.
    • WTE has become the chosen method in many countries replacing landfilling.
    • WTE “smokestacks” emit significantly less harmful emissions than even the most sophisticated landfills…Thermal Recycling (TR), the most advanced WTE technology available, emits even less emissions than that
    • TR facilities vs. landfills are monitored 24/7 for any and all emissions by the EPA and all other applicable agencies through a direct data link
    • TR facilities have an internal vacuum system with the result that there are no emissions other than the ones from the “smokestack”.
    • TR facilities are absolutely quiet and do not smell. The only recognizable noise comes from the delivery trucks
    • TR process produces commercial end-products (ferrous and non-ferrous metals, gypsum, HCL, salts, and bottom ash/slag used in construction) resulting in zero landfilling!

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    Waste management practices
    Operation of Waste to Energy (WTE) facilities for waste management can reduce the volume of waste sent to landfill or with WRSI’s technological advances turn waste into marketable end products such as slag (bottom ash), hydrochloric acid (HCL @ 30%), gypsum (purer than natural gypsum), non-ferrous and ferrous metals for recycling, and salts for industrial use.

    Today, WTE facilities (particularly large ones) are used for generating electricity or provide energy in other ways such as generating steam for heat. In the 1980’s significant amount of energy was lost due to "scrubbers", and other methods used to clean up exhaust. Today, with the technological advances, specifically from facilities such as the WRSI’s MVR model facility, the energy harvest has improved significantly. 4 tons of waste equal 1 ton of oil and 3 tons of waste equal 1 ton of coal. About one quarter of the waste input remains as bottom ash or slag. In the US a common practice is to combine the bottom ash with the boiler and fly ash and this is sent to a landfill. Bottom ash/slag, however, is too valuable to be landfilled. Through the technological advances by MVR a more economical way of dealing with the bottom ash/slag is utilized For more detailed information please view the following papers:

    With improved technology WTE facilities not only destroy harmful chemicals but offer a viable alternative to the outdated approach of landfilling.

    Despite competition between WTE and landfills there is enough evidence that supports the economics, as well as the environmental compatibility, of WTE over landfilling. The majority of the evidence comes from countries such as Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Japan, etc. where higher environmental concerns mandated the development of WTE. Out of this necessity these and other countries have studied the impacts of WTE thoroughly.

    To establish a guideline, elaborate testing of landfilling, WTE, and other methods of municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal were conducted. The results show WTE as the most environmentally sound and economic solution.

    As a result of studies like these Germany is banning landfilling of untreated MSW starting January 1st, 2005 and instead will utilize WTE and it's benefits - the European Union has a similar plan that goes in effect 2010.

    So why is the United States so far behind Europe? Is it because of misinformed opposition groups that hang onto outdated data from the early days of WTE prior to EPA regulations? Or, is it that we have so much land available that we just find new unpopulated areas and dig new holes? Or, is it simply that we are waiting for the miraculous solution that will cost next to nothing and will magically turn waste into gold?

    We have to face the facts and address the problem of MSW in a manner that does not leave it for future generations to deal with it! It is our problem and we are responsible for the waste that we create today and also, unfortunately for the waste of past generations.

    Through what the City of Los Angeles calls Thermal Recycling WRSI offers a viable solution today!

    When studying the best methods for managing MSW and similar wastes it is important to keep in mind that:

    1. A community (city, county etc), as a generator of waste, cannot shed or contract away its responsibility for air or water pollution impacts associated with the landfilling of solid waste.
    2. After reduction and recycling, WTE is the next step in sustainable management of solid waste disposal. Landfilling is not the final disposal of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), but is storage for management by future generations.
    3. WTE is environmentally superior to landfilling. The EPA states that WTE is a "clean, reliable, renewable source of energy…these plants produce…electricity with less environmental impact than almost any other source of electricity".
    4. The economics of WTE – revenue from energy and recovered materials – will have a favorable impact on operating costs.
    5. WTE is an energy generator --- Landfilling is an energy consumer.
    6. Long haul (rail) transport of solid waste creates emissions and can tax already over-burdened regional rail systems.
    7. Fuel consumed for transportation and burial of waste will only go up and buried waste will continue to burden the environment.
    8. WTE destroys the toxic organic contaminants in the waste stream…Landfilling does not.
    9. WTE operations costs are sustainable for the long term: landfilling costs are ever increasing with the amounts added to the landfill i.e. for every ton of waste landfilled, more leachate and methane is generated and requires management.
    10. Most recyclables have an end-of-life as well. At some point these recyclables become "un-recyclable" and have to be disposed of.
    11. Some recycling processes add dangerous chemicals to the environment. Opponents to new generation WTE technology have no viable alternative and are instead continuously burdening the environment and health of us all.
    12. Thermal Recycling, the next step in WTE, is the most viable solution!
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    Frequntly Asked Questions

    Q: What makes Thermal Recycling of WRSI unlike any other Waste to Energy facility currently in operation in the United States of America?
    A: WRSI combines the most stringent environmental standards while providing an economical solution to the treatment of municipal solid waste through the production of revenue generating end products and the efficient use of steam that is generated in the process.

  • Fuel for MVR and Products Produced 5.3M Real Video

    Let's take a closer look at this process and the variety of the products produced.

    Q: How is the waste burned?
    A: Waste acts like fuel. Once the burning process is started waste has a heating value of lignite coal thus eliminating the need for use of fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas).

  • Waste to Fuel 3.6M Real Video

    Q: What happens to the heat produced through the incineration process?
    A: The heat that is created through the incineration of the waste produces a lot of steam. This steam can be used to supply districts with heating/cooling, to heat/cool homes, businesses or industries as an alternative to fossil fuel. While the cost of fossil fuel (oil, gas, coal) can fluctuate heavily the cost of steam remains stable thereby securing the jobs of today and future generations.

  • Steam Process: 4 Tons of Waste = 1 Ton of Heavy Fuel Oil 10M Real Video

    Q: Is steam the only usable energy produced?
    A: No! If no steam is needed for either heating or by industry the concept used by WRSI allows for the production of electricity as well. Depending on the design of WRSI's Waste to Energy facility as much as 200,000 Megawatt can be produced and put into the electricity grid. That is enough electricity to provide 80,000 homes with power for a year.

  • Cogeneration Waste Incineration - Electricity produced 3.4M Real Video

    Q: What other revenue creating products are produced through the incineration of waste?
    A: The incineration of waste also produces Gypsum, Hydrochloric Acid (HCL), Scrap Metal (ferrous and non-ferrous metals) and slag. Gypsum and Hydrochloric Acid are produced through the cleaning of the flue-gases (emissions). Scrap Metal such as Iron, Aluminum, and Steel, which are lost in landfills, are recovered (for recycling) and sold. Slag, also called bottom ash (the residue of the incinerated waste), can be used in the construction industry reducing the need for mining of existing gravel pits. This is good news for communities that are concerned with the protection of natural habitat.

  • Gypsum, HCL, Scrap Metal, and Slag 7.2M Real Video

    Q: What about the emissions? Don't incinerators pollute the environment?
    A: While there are incinerators that emit polluting emissions into our atmosphere, the technology used by WRSI was designed by German engineers to reduce harmful emissions below detection limits. Real time data of current emissions output is available 24 hours a day, 365 days to municipal government and responsible environmental agencies. An additional data link will be available to the general public with summarized data of emission that is updated weekly. Average daily emission concentrations and comparisons to other industries will be shown. This is done as an educational support tool to help those interested to better understand emission values and their relativity to our health.

  • Environmental Standards 5.4 M Real Video

  • Dioxins at MVR 4.9M Real Video

  • Emissions 3.9M Real Video

  • Access to Emissions Online 3.1M Real Video

    Q: How much waste can WRSI's Thermal Recycling facility treat/process?
    A: Economically 300,000 + tons a year which is roughly 1,000 + tons a day. When considering the logistical aspects usually between 300,000 to 1,200,000 tons a year or 1,000 to 4,000 tons a day. 4 tons of Waste produces about 1 ton of slag (bottom ash). Currently, fly and boiler ash (approximately 1% of residue) is filtered out of the emissions. This is the only product in the process that is difficult to be recycled or reused and is usually disposed of in salt mines etc. Continuous testing is under way in Germany to turn the fly and boiler ash into a usable end product such as incorporating it into concrete or bricks. Current trials are promising.

    Q: How do Waste to Energy facilities of WRSI compare to landfills?
    A: The original construction cost of a landfill depends on the size and is generally cheaper to build than a Waste to Energy facility. However, unlike landfills WRSI's Cogeneration Waste Treatment Facilities eliminate most of the harmful emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect and many other air, land and water pollutants.

    Contrary to landfills, Thermal Recycling facilities turn the waste into reusable and revenue generating end products. Valuable recyclables are lost in landfills. While the cost of landfill cleanup and maintenance grows exponentially, WRSI's facilities will generate revenues that pay off these facilities, build new facilities, and other beneficial purposes depending on ownership (public, private or mixed).

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    The WRSI Philosophy

    1. Avoiding the production of garbage through prevention!
    2. Recycle!
    3. Only thermally treat what is not handled through waste reduction and recycling programs!


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