Waste as a resource

Waste is a valuable resource. Treated in the right way, it can be used to (re)produce goods, energy, and fuel; treated wrongly it is a great environmental burden. Coolsweep is about treating waste in the right way. It is about knowledge sharing across European borders, and it is about supporting research driven innovation within the field of waste-to-energy.

Coolsweep’s focus is on waste-to-energy, and the research and innovation boundaries of the Coolsweep project are defined as “everything between reception of the waste at a waste treatment/energy production plant and delivery of energy and by-products”. This includes:

  • Separation technologies
  • Energy recovery technologies
  • Energy and energy carriers
  • Products and by-products of energy recovery

Waste-to-energy only covers a part of the available treatment methods for waste, which also include reuse, recycling and disposal. The European Union makes use of the “Waste Hierarchy” to describe the preferred treatment options for waste.

Waste Hierarchy, Source: Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster

Figur_waste-hierarchy-[ref.-waste-report-2012]

The best option to deal with the waste problem is to make a targeted effort to prevent it from ever arising. One way of doing this is to encourage companies to design products which last longer. The next-best option is to reuse the waste directly. A large quantity of the waste generated in the EU possesses qualities which make it unsuitable for both reuse and recycling. This goes for instance for a big share of the Municipal Waste Stream, mixed business waste, and hazardous waste. The best available treatment option for these waste streams is to recover the energy inherent in the waste. Waste-to-energy is the common term for all the different technologies, which aim at recovering the energy in the waste.

Although waste-to-energy technologies are not located at the top of the waste hierarchy, they are still crucial measurements in the quest to create more sustainable waste treatment systems worldwide. Mixed organic waste and sludge used for biogas production, incineration of hazardous waste and bulky waste, which otherwise cannot be reused; there are many examples of how waste-to-energy technologies might help us move away from landfilling and up the waste hierarchy. By promoting strategic R&D and creating new business opportunities for stakeholders within the field of waste-to-energy, Coolsweep aims at supporting this transition towards more sustainable waste management.