Do EfWs contribute towards climate change?
Compared to coal or oil-fired power stations, EfWs emit less fossil CO2. EfW facilities actually help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by diverting waste away from landfill (decomposing waste produces large amounts of the greenhouse gas, methane, which is 20 times more damaging to the environment than CO2).
A number of detailed studies, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) 2007 report, ‘Mitigation on Climate change’, have concluded that EfWs have an overall positive effect on climate protection.
The report states "incineration and industrial co-combustion for waste-to-energy provides significant renewable energy benefits and fossil fuel offsets".
In Sheffield, its estimated that the low carbon energy produced by its EfW facility prevents 12,000 tonnes of CO2 from being released across the city each year.
The annual level of fossil CO2 created from a typical EfW facility is equivalent to that produced from an 11km stretch of motorway. On average the treatment of one ton of municipal waste in an EfW facility results in a carbon saving of at least 232kg (CO2 equivalent).