GLRPPR Sector Resource: State of Practice for Emerging Waste Conversion Technologies
State of Practice for Emerging Waste Conversion Technologies
RTI International (RTI) was contracted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development to conduct research to prepare a "State of Practice" report to support State and local decision-makers on the subject of emerging waste conversion technologies. Emerging technologies are defined as those in a commercial or advanced pre-commercial development stage. While the application of these technologies to municipal solid waste (MSW) feedstocks is only emerging in the United States (U.S.), these technologies have been applied for the management of MSW in other parts of the world, such as Australia, Canada, Europe, and Japan. A key aspect of international applications is that they are part of waste systems with advanced segregation, such as source segregated organics collection. Where conversion technologies have been most successful is in locations with already established programs for waste segregation and collection, dedicated waste streams (e.g., plastic from industrial partners), and waste supply contracts so that potential plants can operate economically.
For this study, focus was placed on the ability of these technologies to manage the currently non-recycled fraction of municipal solid waste (MSW) in the U.S. The specific objectives for this study and report were to develop:
-- An overview of each waste conversion technology, identifying the types of feedstockthat have or can be used in each process and the air, water, and waste emissions.
-- Information on energy and mass balance for each technology.
-- Information on the economics of the technologies to help decision-makers understand the key cost factors and economic feasibility.
-- A listing and maps of proposed and operational facilities in the United States and pertinent examples for each technology.
-- A summary of key findings and considerations decision-makers should be aware of when evaluating waste conversion technologies.
To address these objectives, RTI built upon research for plastics waste conversion technologies conducted for the American Chemistry Council (see RTI, 2012). In that research, pyrolysis and gasification technology vendors were identified and asked to provide process, environmental, and cost information. Additionally, publicly available data sources were retrieved to complement the data received from each vendor. This study for the EPA is specific to technologies for non-recycled MSW and includes the additional technology category of anaerobic digestion. In addition, data and information originally collected for technology vendors as part of the 2012 study for the American Chemistry Council was updated in June 2012.
U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development
Date of Publication:
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