Business Waste

Energy From Waste

Reuse and recycling are the primary commercial waste disposal methods. These are sustainable and environmentally friendly ways businesses can get rid of many types of waste. However, not all rubbish is recyclable or reusable. Getting energy from waste is a sustainable solution and great alternative to landfill.

Energy recovery from waste provides around 3% of the UK’s electricity needs. More plants than ever across the UK accept all sorts of waste types and use them to generate energy rather than rotting in landfill. It reduces the need to export waste too and helps power a circular economy.

At Business Waste, we divert all commercial waste away from landfill and recycle as much as possible. In some cases, your waste may be sent to an energy from waste plant. Understand what energy from waste is, how it works, and when it may be used in this guide.

rubbish inside an energy from waste plant.
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What is energy from waste?

Energy from waste is a technique that uses non-recyclable refuse and converts it into useful energy. There are various methods of energy recovery from waste, but most involve incineration. It can create a variety of energy sources depending on the waste type and method, such as electricity, heat, and fuels (like diesel).

Often energy from waste in the UK is used when all possible recycling processes are exhausted. The costs to separate, clean, and reuse any remaining waste are greater than the benefit, so recycling isn’t a realistic choice. There are many energy from waste plants in the UK that use various methods to create different kinds of energy from various waste types.

Learn about RDF waste

Benefits of energy 
recovery from waste

The main benefit of energy recovery from waste is that it avoids rubbish ending up in landfill. There are many reasons why landfill is bad, as any waste added to landfill sites can take hundreds and thousands of years to break down, contributing to increasing methane emissions. Further benefits of energy recovery from waste include:

  • Generating energy from waste reduces CO2 emissions. Carbon saved from energy recovery compared to landfill is 0.05 tonnes of CO2e per tonne of residual waste.
  • Over one year, energy recovery from waste could save 37,500 tonnes of CO2e. That’s similar to the emissions created by 4,700 homes or 8,000 non-electric cars.
  • Creating electricity and heat from waste also reduces the reliance on fossil fuels by providing an alternative energy source, which further cuts carbon emissions.
  • Energy from waste is better than regular incineration for any waste sent for to be burned as a disposal method. The same amount of waste is burned but it creates usable energy in the process.
  • Valuable resources can also be recovered after the incineration, such as metals. These can be removed from the ashes and sent for cleaning and recycling, which wouldn’t happen if they ended up in landfill. The ash can also be disposed of responsibly.
energy from waste recovery plant in the UK.

How to generate 
energy from waste

The method to generate energy from waste may depend on the specific energy from waste plant in the UK where your rubbish ends up. The type of waste and kind of energy it creates also impacts the process. However, the general way that energy is generated from waste follows these steps:

  • Waste collection – commercial waste is removed from businesses and taken to a waste management centre for sorting. Anything that’s not recyclable or reusable is checked, and relevant waste is sent to an energy from waste plant.
  • Mixing – the waste is mixed to help ensure an even burn during incineration. Large cranes then lift the waste and drop it into a combustion chamber.
  • Incineration – the combustion chamber reaches temperatures of up to 1,000°C as the waste is burned.
  • Energy generation – incineration generates heat and hot flue gases travel through a boiler. This heats water running through boiler pipes and the steam produced drives a turbine to create electricity. This electricity may be exported to the National Grid.
  • Emissions – all gases from the burned waste are cleaned with lime and carbon to ensure they comply with UK pollution control standards. The gases pass through a fine fabric filter that captures any particles, and it’s then released via a chimney.
  • Materials recovery – ash waste from the incinerated rubbish drops into a quench tank and is then moved to a storage pit. Powerful magnets remove any metal waste, which is sent for recycling. The ash waste is then sent to a specialist recycling facility and used as aggregate replacement in construction materials.
Food waste to energy

How to produce 
energy from food waste

The process to generate energy from food waste is called anaerobic digestion. Waste food is treated and heated up to speed up the process, so microorganisms (bacteria and archaea) break down the waste faster. This results in a mixture of biogas and biofertilisers that are used to generate renewable energy, heat, and fuel.

Learn more about anaerobic digestion

Arrange responsible commercial waste disposal

At Business Waste we provide a wide array of commercial waste disposal solutions for companies in the UK. This includes commercial recycling, as well as sending food waste for anaerobic digestion, industrial composting, and to waste from energy plants where appropriate. Our experts can advise on relevant waste disposal methods.

We divert all waste away from landfill to help protect the environment and save your business money. Recycling and energy recovery from waste reduce how much landfill tax you pay for commercial waste disposal. Get a free quote for waste collection and disposal for any type and amount of waste – contact us online or call 0800 211 8390.

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Get a fast and free quote

Get a fast FREE quote for commercial waste disposal

  • Free quote within 1 hr
  • Any type of commercial waste
  • FREE bins and delivery
  • We cover all of the UK