French households produce 30 million tonnes of waste each year; that’s 460 kg per inhabitant. Converting non-recyclable waste to energy is therefore an obvious choice for both the ecology and the economy.
Waste-to-Energy is the process of recovering the caloric potential in waste and converting it to heat and / or electricity. This is accomplished primarily through the incineration of home and office waste at dedicated waste recovery plants.
Household waste includes all types of waste produced in daily life: packaging, discarded food, appliances, used furniture, green waste, used clothing, etc. Due to its nature and composition, office waste that is incinerated also falls under the category of household waste.
The heat, recovered initially in the form of pressurized steam, is used to supply local district heating networks or industrial facilities.
This method reduces the volume of solid waste by 90%, 70% in terms of weight, and serves as an alternative to landfilling and a complement to recycling. Burying waste generates pollution, contaminating soils with heavy metals and producing greenhouse gases such as methane, but using waste as fuel in a dedicated waste recovery plant converts it to energy, with a neutral impact on the environment in terms of greenhouse gases.
Residual waste (waste that cannot be recycled or reused) is burned in furnaces at temperatures exceeding 1,000°C.
The combustion process produces extremely hot fumes used to heat a boiler and its walls, which contain pipes filled with water. On contact with the heat, the water transforms into steam.
The steam circulates through the pipework of the district heating network to deliver heat and hot water to nearby buildings.
Part of the recovered steam can also be injected into an AC turbo-generator to produce electricity.
After the waste combustion process, incineration residues are recovered and diverted to Public Works sites, for example, for use as material in road construction (road bases).
Producing energy through combustion limits the use of fossil fuels, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, and considerably reduces the weight and volume of household waste.
The heat recovery process produces local energy that is ready for use immediately in facilities close to the plant. It is significantly less costly than fossil fuels, and is not affected by fossil fuel market price volatility.