In urban areas around the world, landfill sites are becoming scarce and at the same time more and more governments are recognising the serious impact waste disposal is having on the environment and climate. The pressure to find solutions that are socially and environmentally acceptable as well as cost-efficient is growing. Of the 513 kilograms of municipal waste generated by every single EU citizen in 2009, 38% ended up in landfill. Using landfill gas to produce energy involves a range of different processes and technologies – for collecting and processing gas through to producing power and heat in co-generation plant.
One technology involves microbial and chemical decomposition processes, whereby landfill waste with an organic component can also be used to produce a combustible gas mix of methane and carbon dioxide. Using this to then produce energy brings a twin benefit for the climate: less fossil fuel is burned, and less methane is released into the atmosphere to damage the ozone layer. One tonne of domestic waste normally generates between 150 and 250 cubic metres of landfill gas per year.
At the show, there will be a focus on thermal processing. Currently an estimated €5.6 billion is being invested each year in building, expanding, modernising and maintaining waste-incineration plant and power stations which use refuse-derivative fuel (RDF). By 2015 this figure is expected to rise to €7.8 billion and the capacity which these systems will be able to deal with will also rise from currently 210 million tonnes per year to 270 million tonnes.
The People's Republic of China is the world´s fastest growing market in thermal processing, with around half of all the new capacity installed last year was built in China. A further 61 waste-incineration plants are currently under construction in the country which together will be able to incinerate 18.6 million tonnes of municipal waste per year.
In the EU, the implementation of  regulations in the Scandinavian countries, Eastern European countries, and Great Britain, could also lead to a growth in the thermal processing industry. According to the British firm Tolvik Consulting, the UK currently has waste-to-energy and RDF plant in the pipeline that will be able to cope with a 19.4 million tonnes per year. At the end of August, industrial gas manufacturer Air Products announced that it would be building a waste-to-energy plant with a capacity of around 300,000 tonnes of private and commercial waste for a waste disposal company in the north of England.
According to Germany´s engineering federation, the Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau (VDMA), German suppliers are currently leading the way in this technology. However, the VDMA sees this position threatened by the inadequate feed-in tariffs for electricity generated from waste provided for in Germany´s Renewable Energy Sources Act. The federation will be setting out the problems in an event called ‘Blue Competence: More resource efficiency through state-of-the-art technology, which will be held on 9 May 2012 at IFAT ENTSORGA.