NIMBY a problem, but legislation provides momentum in European waste-to-energy plant market

The waste-to-energy industry is finding itself confronted with growing opposition from environmental pressure groups and objections raised by Nimbys – those campaigners who proclaim Not In My Back Yard against the siting and development of major waste facilities, especially thermal treatment plants.

Consultants Frost & Sullivan report that in addition to voicing concern over emissions and ash disposal, critics claim that thermal treatment of waste reduces the incentive to recycle materials as waste-to-energy plants need to maintain the throughput of commercial and industrial waste to ensure viability. The NIMBY syndrome is particularly evident in environmentally conscious countries and across nations with poorly developed internal treatment and disposal capacity. The high degree of continued resistance is hampering the construction of new waste-to-energy facilities.

Despite this opposition, growth in the European waste-to-energy market will be sustained throughout the coming decade. According to a new study by Frost & Sullivan, the international market consultancy, a number of European countries have embraced waste-to-energy, with approximately 340 plants processing annual volumes of around 50 million tonnes of municipal waste in 2002.

Each household discards around a tonne of waste on a yearly basis and Frost & Sullivan’s projections indicate that the number of waste management facilities will need to double by 2020.

The introduction of landfill bans to further improve rates of recycling – most prominently the adoption of the EU Landfill Directive is poised to stimulate growth in the European waste-to-energy plant market. Frost & Sullivan believe that 166 plants will be commissioned across Europe between 2003 and 2009, when the overall market will be worth US$313.6 million.

The market is currently dominated by grate (mass burn) plants, but it is anticipated that diversification of plant types and variations in sizes will be largely stimulated by the robust growth rates expected to derive from the emerging pyrolysis and gasification plants market and further development of the fluidised bed plant market.

Strong emphasis on the waste hierarchy principle, favouring waste minimisation over disposal by re-using or recycling as well as thermal, biological and, as a last resort, landfill methods, will brighten prospects for the European waste-to-energy plant market.

The maturity of some municipal solid waste services markets could adversely affect Europe-wide revenues and competitive pricing. The study cites the Alpine region and Germany, which have historically been spearheading the implementation of new methods of treatment and disposal (such as thermal and biological treatment), as key examples.

The consultants point to a lack of political will as another serious stumbling block to the waste-to-energy plant construction. While at EU level, Directives have been passed to improve packaging recycling, limit the environmental impact from incinerators and reduce the impact of waste on landfill, the commitment to these issues at a national level is debatable.

Buyers in this market, such as waste treatment companies and municipalities, have come under increasing pressure to prove and communicate their green credentials. Those responsible for purchasing or specifying within an organisation are taking an increasingly environmentally aware approach to purchasing.

Choosing a supplier with a strong brand image and green accolades will help restore buyers’ potentially tarnished reputation which could be caused by the detrimental effect of safety or environmental incidents occurred in plants or other waste treatment options associated with the buyer. These considerations may prompt companies to pay more than the minimum waste treatment costs in order to obtain dependable technology from a reliable brand name, according to Frost & Sullivan.


Ano da Publicação: 2003
Fonte: Warmer Bulletin #05-2003: February 16
Autor: Kit Strange (Warmer Bulletin)
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