Incineration for Energy
mindfully.org note: this file is for reference only... incineration is definitely a terrible idea. It is an industry myth that modern incinerators destroy all carcinogenic chemicals before being released as exhaust. Testing cited by the incinerator industry is highly flawed.
source: http://www.cpchem.com/k%2Dresin/products/hse%5Frev%5Fenv.asp Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP 23may01
Scientific studies around the world have shown that waste-to-energy incineration plants are an environmentally safe option for disposing of solid waste when using available emission control technologies and high combustion temperatures. Because of their high energy content, plastics can help the entire waste mix burn hotter and more completely in a waste-to-energy incinerator. For example, polystyrene has an energy value of 17,800 BTU per pound as compared to wood at 6,700 BTU per pound. (15,585 KJ/kg)
More than 100 waste-to-energy facilities are now operating in the United States. Another 32 are under construction or are about to become operational, and 202 additional plants are in the planning stages. Some solid waste experts predict that by the turn of the century, about 40% of the nation's MSW will be incinerated to produce energy. Incineration of MSW reduces its volume by 80% - 90%.
Although only about 10% of all MSW in the United States is incinerated, large scale MSW incineration is now common throughout Western Europe. In the Federal Republic of Germany, 42 waste-to-energy plants incinerate 22% of the nation's MSW. In Sweden, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the percentages are even higher. (CSWS D-2:5/3/89)
An incineration test was conducted using a rotary kiln incinerator. The
samples tested were
In addition to volatile compounds emitted during incineration, attention
should also be given to possible heavy metal contamination that could remain in
the ash. No heavy metals (antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead,
mercury, or selenium) or compounds thereof are added as pigments, inks or
stabilizers in the manufacture of
Sanitary landfills are an essential feature of an integrated MSW management system and will continue to be used for disposal of waste that cannot be diverted, recycled or incinerated.
Today, over 70% of the MSW in the United States is placed in landfills. Although packaging represents ~30% by volume of the MSW being landfilled, plastic packaging only represents ~8% by volume of all MSW landfilled. (CSWS, 1990) In the total MSW stream, plastics only account for ~18% by volume. (Franklin Associates, 1989)
One reason why many persons continue to incorrectly believe that plastic packaging is responsible for filling up landfill space is because plastic packaging is not readily biodegradable. The fact that plastic does not biodegrade (or photodegrade), which is offered as one of its great defects, may be one of its greatest virtues. Because of the inert character of plastics, toxic chemicals are not introduced in the environment. Even materials which are considered "biodegradable," such as food and yard debris, degrade at a very, very slow rate (by 25 to 50% over 10 - 15 years). (Rathje, 1989) For example, biodegradable items such as newspaper and food scraps have been found substantially intact after thirty years in a landfill.
Although there may be some limited applications for degradable plastics, such as a six-pack ring carrier, the effect enhanced biodegradability of plastics has on safety and durability requirements in addition to any potential waste management benefits must be evaluated before degradable plastics can be used more extensively. (CSWS E-1:5/8/89)
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