Nowadays, waste-to-energy (WtE) is considered the most effective disposal system for nonrecyclable materials. There is general concern with regard to potential environmental and health risks connected with WtE plants. Data from epidemiological studies, conducted since the 1980s, had shown that old-generation plants have a negative environmental impact. Owing to innovations in both technology and methodology involved in waste processing, new-generation WtE plants have considerably mitigated such negative impact. The aim of the study is to assess how legislation, technological innovation, and mitigation strategies can help and reduce the repercussions that waste-to-energy might have on both the environment and people’s health. The first step in this study consisted in investigating the current European and Italian legislation, as well as the operating mechanisms and technologies available to mitigate environmental impacts. Successively, the second step consisted in verifying their actual effectiveness when applied to the most recent plants. In particular, ten modern incinerations, new or restored in the last decade, were examined in detail. The case studies’ analysis and their comparison showed that, when adequately submitted to a health impact assessment (HIA) and in presence of valid monitoring plans, the most advanced facilities are able to keep emissions way below the limits prescribed by the law, mitigating environmental and health impacts. In addition, the study highlighted some areas of possible future interventions and actions. Finally, the outcome of the research is to propose a set of guidelines, legal tools, and appropriate technologies, as exportable and scalable healthy strategies in several contexts.

Waste-to-Energy as a Method of Refuse Disposal: An Analysis of Sustainable Technologies and Their Environmental Impact

Buffoli, Maddalena;Rebecchi, Andrea;Signorelli, Carlo;Capolongo, Stefano
2021

Abstract

Nowadays, waste-to-energy (WtE) is considered the most effective disposal system for nonrecyclable materials. There is general concern with regard to potential environmental and health risks connected with WtE plants. Data from epidemiological studies, conducted since the 1980s, had shown that old-generation plants have a negative environmental impact. Owing to innovations in both technology and methodology involved in waste processing, new-generation WtE plants have considerably mitigated such negative impact. The aim of the study is to assess how legislation, technological innovation, and mitigation strategies can help and reduce the repercussions that waste-to-energy might have on both the environment and people’s health. The first step in this study consisted in investigating the current European and Italian legislation, as well as the operating mechanisms and technologies available to mitigate environmental impacts. Successively, the second step consisted in verifying their actual effectiveness when applied to the most recent plants. In particular, ten modern incinerations, new or restored in the last decade, were examined in detail. The case studies’ analysis and their comparison showed that, when adequately submitted to a health impact assessment (HIA) and in presence of valid monitoring plans, the most advanced facilities are able to keep emissions way below the limits prescribed by the law, mitigating environmental and health impacts. In addition, the study highlighted some areas of possible future interventions and actions. Finally, the outcome of the research is to propose a set of guidelines, legal tools, and appropriate technologies, as exportable and scalable healthy strategies in several contexts.
Handbook of Solid Waste Management
978-981-15-7525-9
978-981-15-7525-9
Waste-to-energy, Emissions, Health impact assessment, Technologies
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11311/1177651
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