A Spokesperson for Covanta said: The Poolbeg energy-from-waste project continues to be the best option for dealing with Dublin’s residual waste.
The project’s waste processing capacity was chosen based on long-term planning considerations, recognizing that there would be variations in future residual waste quantities due to changing levels of recycling and economic activity. Given that fact, combined with the flexibility that is built into the contract between Covanta and the Dublin City Council, the facility remains correctly sized.
Recently, we commissioned independent research of the residual waste likely to arise in the Dublin area, and the following picture emerges. Bear in mind too that these projections assume waste recycling rates continuing to grow from over 40% at present to 50% by 2013, and to 59% by 2020.
While numerous forms of residual waste treatment may be applicable to different components of the waste stream, reliance on MBT (Mechanical Biological Treatment) as a primary means of waste disposal, as proposed by the Minister of Environment, is an unreliable solution. This is because, following an expensive and energy consuming MBT process, the end result is a residue of up to two-thirds of the original waste volume to be either landfilled or combusted in energy-from-waste facilities, like the Poolbeg project, or in cement kilns.
It is curious that the same folks who are opposed to the highly controlled, environmentally efficient combustion of waste in the Poolbeg facility appear to have no concerns about large volumes of residual waste being burnt in cement kilns in Ireland or elsewhere, that were not designed for this purpose. But, of course, these cement kilns are not located in their back yards.
In the UK, where current regulations support the implementation of projects like the Poolbeg facility, Covanta is currently developing a significant energy-from-waste business. Norfolk and Gloucestershire County Councils have recently abandoned their plans for MBT on grounds of cost and lack of efficiency, as did Suffolk County Council which is now about to award a contract for the construction of an EfW plant. In other European countries such as Germany, where attempts have been made to utilize MBT as the primary method of residual waste treatment, that strategy has been largely abandoned due to the realization that MBT is an expensive, unsustainable process.
Conversely, virtually every major city within the European Union has implemented an energy-from-waste facility, like the one planned for Poolbeg, as a cornerstone of its waste management policy.
Unlike mechanical treatment facilities, which are net consumers of energy, the Poolbeg energy-from-waste plant would generate 58 MWs of electricity, and provide district heating for approximately 80,000 homes.
It is a matter for the Irish Government, and the country’s taxpayers, to decide if they want to base their waste management policy on a tried and tested approach such as energy–from-waste, that has been proven to be good value for money, or a hastily concocted alternative that has previously proven in numerous other locations to be exorbitantly expensive and unsustainable.