Waste-to-Energy Plants


    In News

    • Recently,  the Kerala government has announced the State’s first waste-to-energy project in Kozhikode..


    • Waste-to-energy projects use non-recyclable dry waste to generate electricity. They increase power generation capacity and eases the solid waste management (SWM) burden.

    • Solid Waste Profile  :
      • Solid waste in India is 55-60% biodegradable organic waste,25-30% non-biodegradable dry waste; and around 15% silt, stones, and drain waste. 
      • Biodegradable organic waste can be converted into organic compost or biogas
      • Of the non-biodegradable dry waste, only 2-3% — including hard plastics, metals, and e-waste — is recyclable. The remainder consists of low-grade plastic, rags, and cloth that can’t be recycled. This fraction of the non-recyclable dry waste is the most challenging portion of the present SWM system .It is this portion that waste-to-energy plants use to generate power. The waste is combusted to generate heat, which is converted into electricity.

    Challenges of Waste-to-Energy Plants:

    • There are around 100 waste-to-energy projects around the country but only a handful of them are operational due to following challenges
    •  low calorific value: 
      •  The calorific value of mixed Indian waste is about 1,500 kcal/kg, which is not suitable for power generation. (Coal’s calorific value is around 8,000 kcal/kg.) 
      • Biodegradable waste has high moisture content and cannot be used for power generation. 
    • Improper Segregation: The calorific value of segregated and dried non-recyclable dry waste is much higher, at 2,800-3,000 kcal/kg, sufficient enough to generate power.but due to Improper segregation moisture ingress negatively affects the calorific value.
    •  High costs of energy production:The cost of generating power from waste is around ?7-8/unit, while the cost at which the States’ electricity boards buy power from coal, hydroelectric, and solar power plants is around ?3-4/unit.

    Initiatives For Solid Waste Management: 

    • Waste to Wealth Portal: The Waste to Wealth Mission is one of the nine scientific missions of the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PMSTIAC).
      • It aims to identify, develop, and deploy technologies to treat waste to generate energy, recycle materials, and extract resources of value.
    • Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016: It mandates the generators of plastic waste to take steps to minimise generation of plastic waste, prevent littering of plastic waste, and ensure segregated storage of waste at source among other measures.
    • ‘My Home-My Neighborhood’ (Ghar Bi Saaf-Pados Bhi Saaf) campaign: launched by Urban Affairs Ministry the campaign focuses on  six components: 
      • Segregation of waste at source 
      • Compost making from wet waste within the premises/ neighbourhood/area 
      • Recycling of dry waste 
      • Freeing the neighbourhood from open defecation and open urination 
      • Motivating the residents of neighbourhood against throwing garbage in open spaces
      • Adopting a nearby park or open place for collection and waste segregation. 
    • Solid Waste Management Rules 2016: The waste management rules are  applicable beyond municipal areas and have included urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships etc. they also focus on segregation of waste at source.

    Way Forward :

    • There is a need for a comprehensive waste management policy that focuses on proper segregation and encourages investment into private capacities and research.