Waste to Energy: UNRISD Explores the Potential of Waste Incineration with Energy Recovery

Waste generation is a burgeoning problem, with burgeoning cities and populations leading to increasing waste disposal challenges. Conventional waste management practices face limitations in addressing these challenges effectively, necessitating innovative solutions to mitigate their environmental and health impacts. One such solution is waste incineration with energy recovery, a technology that transforms waste into energy while mitigating environmental concerns.

How does waste incineration with energy recovery work?

Waste incineration with energy recovery involves burning controlled and sorted waste in a specially designed furnace at high temperatures. The heat generated is used to produce steam, which drives turbines to generate electricity. Additionally, the process generates heat and gases that can be utilized for heating purposes, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Benefits of waste incineration with energy recovery:

  • Energy generation: Provides a reliable source of renewable energy from otherwise non-productive waste.
  • Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions: By replacing fossil fuels with energy generated from waste, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced significantly.
  • Waste reduction: Incineration reduces the volume of waste by 90%, minimizing landfilling and landfill methane emissions.
  • Job creation: The technology fosters job creation in sectors related to waste collection, handling, and energy production.

Challenges of waste incineration with energy recovery:

  • Air pollution: Emissions require stringent control measures to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Ash management: Managing the disposal or reuse of incineration ash is essential to prevent environmental pollution.
  • Technological limitations: Certain types of waste, such as batteries and electronics, pose challenges for incineration.

UNRISD’s perspective:

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has recognized the potential of waste incineration with energy recovery as a waste management solution under certain conditions. UNRISD emphasizes the importance of:

  • Stringent pollution control measures
  • Effective ash management plans
  • Appropriate technology selection based on specific waste composition and needs
  • Public participation and stakeholder engagement in planning and implementation


Waste incineration with energy recovery offers the potential to address waste management challenges, generate renewable energy, and mitigate environmental impacts. By implementing robust technological and management practices, it can become a valuable tool in the transition towards sustainable waste management practices.


1. What types of waste are suitable for incineration?

  • Municipal solid waste, paper, plastic, wood, and textiles are suitable.

2. What are the air pollution control measures?

  • Scrubbers, filters, and electrostatic precipitators are used to control particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants.

3. What is the efficiency of waste incineration with energy recovery?

  • Modern plants achieve energy recovery efficiencies of 70-90%.


Comments are closed

Recent Posts