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Write a literature review for the Waste to energy projects ( it might include its definition, types, technologies, main features etc). Also write the current state of the Waste to energy projects in Australia.

Overview of Waste-to-Energy Processes

The essay will review contemporary literature on the conversion of wastes into various forms of energy. The concept revolves several key terms that include recyclable energy resources, solid waste management, waste mitigation and waste recycling. A considerable amount of work has been done on the theme and several researches have been done on the issue with various suggestions and technological applications have been modified based on these researches. The present day crisis of the environment due the amount of waste generated globally is a serious threat due to their impact on the environment. Waste reduction policies have been framed by various nations to address the global issue. The generations of wastes from various sectors of industry and domestic sources have created a dilemma for the environment at large and humanity have already started facing serious threats due to the same. According to the World Energy Council the global market of waste to energy was estimated at 25.32 billion US dollars in 2013 and it is expected to grow at a rate of 5.5 % in the consecutive years. The most popular waste to energy technologies are based on thermal energy conversion and the industries involved in these industries accounted for around 88% of the total revenue from waste to energy sources.

The following sections will discuss the themes on which peer reviews were made and the subsequent researches that have been done. The essay will review journals based on technologies that decide the process of conversion. These might include thermo-chemical conversion, gasification, pyrolysis and other recent technologies. The paper will also review the various trends and processes that are engaged in converting wastes to energy and will review several case specific scenarios pertaining to energy conversion from wastes. Journal and articles based on impacts of wastes on environments and the necessity to convert the wastes into potential energy resources will also be reviewed in the course of the paper.

The article “Process aspects in combustion and gasification Waste-to-Energy (WtE) units” authored by Bo Leckner gives a general overview of the concept of waste to energy processes. The paper will give a generalized over view about the processes that are included in the waste to energy conversion. The article mostly describes the process of the pyrolysis, gasification, and combustion or incineration of municipal solid wastes. The article is good paper to gain a basic knowledge about WtE processes. The paper details in the type of devices or furnaces used for combustion, the processes of gas cleaning and combustion being generated by the work. The paper also reviews the impact that is created by the sorting of the wastes at the source. The combustion of various wastes produces different residues and analyses of the properties are also done in the paper.

 The article “The crucial role of Waste-to-Energy technologies in enhanced landfill mining: a technology review” was published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume no. 55 in the year 2013 and has been authored by A. Bosmans,  I. Vanderreydt , D. Geysen, and  L. Helsen belonging from Belgium. The article describes the concepts of Enhanced Waste Management or commonly EWM and Enhanced Landfill Mining or commonly ELFM in a pretext to the sustainability of the environment. The paper presents concept about technologies involving Thermo-chemical processes in order to create either energy or products from wastes. The major focus is on conversion of solid wastes derived from municipal bodies and commonly termed as Municipal Solid Waste or MSW. The paper claims that recovering energy or products from various wastes material is possible under certain thermo-chemical processes given these processes are in sync with the waste material. The main objective of the conversion of ELFM into potential energy resource is to prevent the amount of CO2 and other toxic emissions during the process of valorization or incineration. The author reveals that the further research is being done in the field of thermo-chemical processes which would lead to more viable solutions in the future. The research also states that these conversion processes greatly depend on the quality and quantity of waste generated. The landfill mining potential has been identified as one of the major factors that determine the nature and quality of energy or product that will be produced from such wastes. The paper concludes by analyzing the potentiality and commercial viability of the technological process in the process of waste to energy generation.  

Role of Thermo-Chemical Processes in Enhanced Landfill Mining

The next paper reviewed on this theme includes the article is authored by Umberto Arena and is published from the university of Campania, Italy. The paper titled “From waste-to-energy to waste-to-resources: The new role of thermal treatments of solid waste in the Recycling Society”, discusses in detail about the thermal conversion, air pollution control and heat recovery as the three step process in recovery of energy from wastes. The author argues that the main objective of the WtEs facilities is not recycling the wastes rather it has shifted to conservation of resources and recovery. The author claims that these processes have been the most competent technologies of recent times that effectively convert wastes to sources of energy. The author also claims that these facilities have been successful in recovering thermal and electric energy without damaging the environment and has also reduced to pressure of landfills by reducing the quantity of waste generated. The author at same time also argues that though recycling reduces the pressure on the environment, it should be noted that recycling should be only done within a threshold limit and that the materials should not have any hazardous elements prevalent in the final output. The author finally states that the management of wastes in mostly solid forms should have a balance between reductions of wastes, recycling techniques, various biological and thermo-chemical processes and engineered landfill solutions. The authors suggest that a framework based on these processes would eventually reduce waste and create energy from them in sustainable manner.

The article, “Life cycle assessment of thermal waste-to-energy technologies: review and recommendations. Waste management” authored by Thomas Fruergaard Astrup, (Astrup et al. 2015) from the Technical University of Denmark, Department of Environmental engineering talks about the life cycle assessment of the WtE processes which include the techniques of incineration, co-combustion, gasification and pyrolysis. The authors state the fact that life cycle assessment is a necessity and is being extensively used by the facilities in order to evaluate and understand the environmental contexts of the WtE processes and assess their environmental performance (Evangelisti et al. 2014). The paper reviews the step by step assessment of the life cycle of the WtEs based on several technological parameters that included the waste composition and analysis, the process of cleaning including gas cleaning, the recovery of energy, and the residue management. Finally the authors suggest a state of the art Life Cycle assessment of WtE facilities. The recommendations have been made from a realistic viewpoint and practical feasibility.

The recovery of energy from wastes is the most necessary requirement in the current day. Authors Paul H. Brunner and Helmut Rechberger have rightly pointed out the importance of recycling wastes to recover owing to alarming rise in the quantity of wastes around the globe. In the paper “Waste to energy – key element for sustainable waste management”, (Brunner and Rechberger 2015) they have claimed that waste to energy conversion is one of the most important processes in sustainable waste management processes. The main concern of the paper revolves around the higher material turnover from increased human activities and states that waste management should be done within a framework and aim to create potential energy resources but maintain environment standards at the same time. According Brunner and Rechberger, the waste to energy facilities are instrumental in creating a difference in the way wastes are managed and create future potential in sustainable management. They have suggested that if used to their fullest potential, the WtE facilities can play a multipurpose role

Waste-to-Resources: The New Role of Thermal Treatment

“The sustainable management of waste to energy facilities”, a paper authored by Federica Cucchiella, Idiano D’Adamo, and Massimo Gastaldi reviews the context on the basis of pollution and environmental degradation and strongly argues the need for WtE facilities to address the growing problem of waste management and subsequent effect on the environment mostly through degraded landfills. The authors have initiated discussion by referring to the definition of pollution as given by Porter and Van der Linde which refers pollution as the manifestation of economic waste. They have proposed a National Waste Management Plan with the respect to Italian context. They have identified the waste management problems in the Italian context and have stated that proper waste management increases the scope of financial gains and investments in the waste management systems offers economic and environmental benefits.  The paper also suggests methods to mitigate and reduce the green house gases with respect to the landfills, the estimation of the financial and economic net present value with respect to waste management techniques in Italy. The paper also gives an estimation of the employment opportunities that might rise from the facilities. The paper emphasizes the need to promote and practice sustainable waste management techniques with respect to the generation of energy from wastes, thereby adding value to the environment and to the economy.

Apart from Thermo chemical processes there are other processes to manage wastes. The invention of the bioelectricrochemical systems or simply BES. The BESs are one of the recent technologies that promise conversion of waste waters into the potential energy resources. Several studies are being conducted and the application of microbial fuel cells or MFCs for treatment of waste water generated from domestic and commercial sources are being popularly researched and is gaining wide acceptance. In the article “Food and agricultural wastes as substrates for bioelectrochemical system (BES): the synchronized recovery of sustainable energy and waste treatment” the concept of Bioelectrical systems have been discussed and a research has been provided on the process of bio energy generation from waste waters. The paper has been authored by Ahmed ElMekawy, Sandipam Srikanth, Suman Bajracharya, Hanaa M. Hegab, Poonam Singh Nigam, Anoop Singh, S Venkata Mohan, and Deepak Pant. The main focus of the paper is restricted to MFCs and the various substrates that are generated from time to time. The application of various kinds of substrates originated from different sources. The article mostly focuses in the MFCs and their optimum utilization in generating bio fuel was also discussed in the paper (ElMekawy et al. 2015).

Another biological process that has the potential to create energy from waste if from large scale anaerobic digestion to treat wasted food materials and other organic wastes to produce bio gas. The paper “Life cycle assessment of energy from waste via anaerobic digestion: A UK case study” authored by Sara Evangelisti, Paola Lettieri, Domenico Borello, and Roland Clift, gives us a brief insight into the life cycle analysis of the Anaerobic Digestion or simply AD, and understand the environmental impacts that these processes might have. The paper happens to look into the several processes that might ignite the processes of generating the energy through AD. The viability and applicability of the processes are studied on the basis of the context of their life cycle. The research have revealed that AD is a very credible option to reduce CO2 and SO2 generation when electricity generated from fossil fuels is substituted with these bio fuels. However the concern regarding the generation of energy from bio fuels is the capacity and quantity of the energy produced from bio gas.  A Paper on “Bioconversion of food waste to energy: a review” authored by the Kiran et al. (2014) gives an  detailed analysis of converting wastes generated from food  and converting them into fuel of cleaner source.  The potential of the nutrient rich organic materials with several processes of valorization and decomposition generating bio gas and other green fuels at a cost effective rate.

Life Cycle Assessment of Thermal Waste-to-Energy Technologies

A paper suggesting “Strategies on implementation of waste energy supply chain for circular economy system” had been reviewed to understand the policies and framework that would govern these industries owing to their nature of work. According to Shu-Yuan Pan et al. (2015), the necessity to have a concrete policy to implement the waste to energy techniques is paramount given the potential of the wastes to convert them into sources of energy. The barriers that arise due to the technologies, finance, institution and regulatory measures curb the chances of implementation of these sustainable energy methods. The paper provides portfolios of various technologies that can be implemented across variable environments and recommends processes that can be implemented to establish WtE facilities. The paper also suggests the several key task forces that would monitor the implementation strategies along with several lessons have been promoted to provide clarity about the supply chain of the waste to energy facilities and to create circular economies (Tan et al. 2014).

The other peer reviewed journals that have been looked up for understanding the economic and environmental sustainability of the energy to wastes have been reviewed in the paper. “The economic analysis of waste to energy in China” a paper on the potential economic benefits and sustainability has been done which gives an insight into the technologies, their economic and social cost benefits of the WtEs. The paper also provides an economic analysis and calculates the breakeven point of a suggested WTE facility (Zhao et al. 2016.).

The cases have been reviewed from all over the world, and similar instances of solid waste management techniques and necessity is studied in this paper. The article is reviewed on the Saudi Arabian Context. The authors of the article suggest that the main aim of this paper is to understand and review the viability of the WtE technologies in the Saudi Arabia and thereby propose a plan to implement the waste to energy processes (Nizami et al.  2015). The paper states that there are no WtEs present in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the amount municipal solid wastes  that are generated annually has a huge potential to generate alternate sources of power from the wastes.  

Case studies have also been reviewed on possibilities of solid waste as a renewable source of energy in Libya authored by Tarek A. Hamad, Abdulhakim A. Agll, Yousif M. Hamad, and John W. Sheffield. The paper reviews the potentiality of solid wastes in Libya in producing sustainable energy given the amount of wastes generated in the country due to its rapid urbanization and industrialization. The paper also reviews the several processes that can be implemented according to Libyan context, and includes description of valorization and combustion and incineration. It also reviews the benefits and challenges that might be faced while implementing the WtEs in Libya and provides recommendations for the same.

Case studies relating to sustainable energy transitions in emerging economies (Hansen and Nygaard 2014) in the context of Malaysia have been reviewed to understand the implication and technologies that might work out in the Malaysian scenario. The paper gives an insight into the application of palm oil to produce biomass waste and generate energy potentials. The research done by Hansen and Nygaard compiles the process and implication models of palm oil biomass and gives recommendation to implement them have been analysed and compiled in the paper. The paper also discovers the potentiality of palm oil wastes in creating an alternative source of energy.

Papers classifying the nature of solid wastes were reviewed to get an idea about the waste properties and their taxonomy and the paper identifies 26 different types of municipal solid wastes and is classified broadly on the basis of the proximate and ultimate analyses. The typical components that can be selected for thermal conversion were also identified in the paper (Zhou et al. 2015).  The research has been done on the basis of several samples collected from municipal solid wastes. Researches on the topics of potentiality of solid waste as a renewable energy against the backdrop of Tanzania have been reviewed to get an idea of the context in a global perspective (Omari et al.  2014). The topic discussed in the paper revolves mostly around the same issues that pertain to the Waste to Energy conversion differentiated only by geographic location. Several reviews were done on the technology of the Waste to Energy units.  The several processes were identified and process aspects of gasification and combustion were also reviewed to have a better understanding of the technological processes. (Leckner 2015).  The renewable share of the municipal solid waste had been looked into from a case study from Finland to understand the environmental sustainability with respect to the potentiality of the solid wastes (Horttanainen et al. 2013). The same cases have been reviewed again on the perspective of a developing country and a case study of municipal solid waste as source of renewable energy in Bangladesh have been reviewed (Hossain et al.  2014). Similar studies from Malaysia were also done to understand the scenario in Asian economies.

Thus the literature review on the theme of conversion of waste to energy have brought out several implications and provides an idea about the concept of the WtE or waste to Energy conversions, the various technological  processes that create the opportunity to retrieve energy back (Zhou et al. 2015).  The reviewing of articles with relation to environmental impact also helped to reflect on the issues that affect the WtEs and the environment. The positive impacts were also understood from the literature. The impact and implementation of the WtE facilities on various backdrops were reviewed to get an idea about the global scenario regarding the generation of energy from municipal solid wastes.  The several case studies reviewed in the process reveals that though the concept is a recent one yet these are trending topics of environmental sustainability and sustainable development.  From the extensive reviewing of the journals it can be inferred that though the other then conventional technologies, more competent and viable technologies are on the process of research and are moulding the industry of WtEs. The microbial fuel cell theories are also equally potent and credible solution of treating waste waters and generating electricity from them.


The reviewed literatures give a basic idea on the current scenario on environmental sustainability. Being a more recent concept, further extensive research is still yet to be done. Only a limited research is available and certain aspects are still yet to be researched.  The reviewed articles reveal the various themes that extend over a topic. Articles relating to technologies and process were reviewed to understand the technical advancements that have taken place to convert wastes to potential sources of energy and have made the processes practically possible to implement them. Articles covering nature of wastes and the varying degree of potential they have in generating energy have been reviewed to get an insight on the various waste material that are generated across the globe and the way they can be utilised. The case studies provide evidences and plans for implementation of these theories of WtEs. Paper suggesting policies and strategies to provide implementation of the WtEs were reviewed to get an idea about the frame work that would be required to implement these facilities.

 However, the literatures available provide a credible source of information and establish the base for future researchers in the field.  It is deeply expected that these researches on the potentiality of green and cleaner energy will lead to further innovation and research on these technologies. It can be expected that the future times will find more alternatives of greener fuels and more effective application of waste management to derive sources of energy that can be made available to a larger extent and would be at par with conventional sources of energy.


Arena, U., 2015. From waste-to-energy to waste-to-resources: the new role of thermal treatments of solid waste in the Recycling Society. Waste Management, 37, pp.1-3.

Astrup, T.F., Tonini, D., Turconi, R. and Boldrin, A., 2015. Life cycle assessment of thermal waste-to-energy technologies: review and recommendations. Waste management, 37, pp.104-115.

Bosmans, A., Vanderreydt, I., Geysen, D. and Helsen, L., 2013. The crucial role of Waste-to-Energy technologies in enhanced landfill mining: a technology review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 55, pp.10-23.

Brunner, P.H. and Rechberger, H., 2015. Waste to energy–key element for sustainable waste management. Waste Management, 37, pp.3-12.

Cucchiella, F., D’Adamo, I. and Gastaldi, M., 2014. Sustainable management of waste-to-energy facilities. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 33, pp.719-728.

ElMekawy, A., Srikanth, S., Bajracharya, S., Hegab, H.M., Nigam, P.S., Singh, A., Mohan, S.V. and Pant, D., 2015. Food and agricultural wastes as substrates for bioelectrochemical system (BES): the synchronized recovery of sustainable energy and waste treatment. Food Research International, 73, pp.213-225.

Eriksson, O., Bisaillon, M., Haraldsson, M. and Sundberg, J., 2014. Integrated waste management as a mean to promote renewable energy. Renewable Energy, 61, pp.38-42.

Evangelisti, S., Lettieri, P., Borello, D. and Clift, R., 2014. Life cycle assessment of energy from waste via anaerobic digestion: a UK case study. Waste management, 34(1), pp.226-237.

Hamad, T.A., Agll, A.A., Hamad, Y.M. and Sheffield, J.W., 2014. Solid waste as renewable source of energy: current and future possibility in Libya. Case studies in thermal Engineering, 4, pp.144-152.

Hansen, U.E. and Nygaard, I., 2014. Sustainable energy transitions in emerging economies: The formation of a palm oil biomass waste-to-energy niche in Malaysia 1990–2011. Energy Policy, 66, pp.666-676.

Horttanainen, M., Teirasvuo, N., Kapustina, V., Hupponen, M. and Luoranen, M., 2013. The composition, heating value and renewable share of the energy content of mixed municipal solid waste in Finland. Waste management, 33(12), pp.2680-2686.

Hossain, H.Z., Hossain, Q.H., Monir, M.M.U. and Ahmed, M.T., 2014. Municipal solid waste (MSW) as a source of renewable energy in Bangladesh: Revisited. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 39, pp.35-41.

Kiran, E.U., Trzcinski, A.P., Ng, W.J. and Liu, Y., 2014. Bioconversion of food waste to energy: a review. Fuel, 134, pp.389-399.

Kohtala, C., 2015. Addressing sustainability in research on distributed production: an integrated literature review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 106, pp.654-668.

Leckner, B., 2015. Process aspects in combustion and gasification Waste-to-Energy (WtE) units. Waste management, 37, pp.13-25.

Ng, W.P.Q., Lam, H.L., Varbanov, P.S. and Klemeš, J.J., 2014. Waste-to-energy (WTE) network synthesis for municipal solid waste (MSW). Energy Conversion and Management, 85, pp.866-874.

Nizami, A.S., Rehan, M., Ouda, O.K., Shahzad, K., Sadef, Y., Iqbal, T. and Ismail, I.M., 2015. An argument for developing waste-to-energy technologies in Saudi Arabia. Chem. Eng. Trans, 45.

Omari, A.M., Kichonge, B.N., John, R., Njau, K.N. and Mtui, P.L., 2014. POTENTIAL OF MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE, AS RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE-A CASE STUDY OF ARUSHA, TANZANIA. sustainable development, 3, p.4.

Ouda, O.K.M., Raza, S.A., Nizami, A.S., Rehan, M., Al-Waked, R. and Korres, N.E., 2016. Waste to energy potential: a case study of Saudi Arabia. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 61, pp.328-340.

Pan, S.Y., Du, M.A., Huang, I.T., Liu, I.H., Chang, E.E. and Chiang, P.C., 2015. Strategies on implementation of waste-to-energy (WTE) supply chain for circular economy system: a review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 108, pp.409-421.

Sanderson, J., 2014. Waste to energy. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, 126(2), pp.32-33.

Tan, S., Hashim, H., Lee, C., Taib, M.R. and Yan, J., 2014. Economical and environmental impact of waste-to-energy (WTE) alternatives for waste incineration, landfill and anaerobic digestion. Energy procedia, 61, pp.704-708.

Zhao, X.G., Jiang, G.W., Li, A. and Wang, L., 2016. Economic analysis of waste-to-energy industry in China. Waste management, 48, pp.604-618.

Zhou, H., Long, Y., Meng, A., Li, Q. and Zhang, Y., 2015. Classification of municipal solid waste components for thermal conversion in waste-to-energy research. Fuel, 145, pp.151-157.

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