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Waste – turning a problem into an opportunity

All waste cannot be recycled, so waste incineration reduces the amount of waste deposited in a landfill and reduces emissions from energy production. It also creates new business opportunities for Fortum.

A circular economy offers new opportunities for innovative business

A circular economy and the utilisation of raw materials produced from waste offer new opportunities for innovative business. There is great growth potential in the development of waste incineration. Waste management policy is facing big changes in Europe because the EU Landfill Directive requires member states to gradually decrease the volume of biodegradable waste disposed of in landfills. The primary push is for the reuse of raw materials and the decrease of waste volumes – but what to do with the non-recyclable waste, which accounts for about half of household waste? Recovering waste energy through incineration is part of smart waste management.

The potential benefits of waste incineration have been noticed already in many countries, but Finland and the Baltic countries, for example, still lag behind. About 65% of waste material is of organic origin, i.e. biomass, which in waste-to-energy combustion significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Using waste in energy production can reduce the use of imported fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas.

In 2013 Fortum commissioned a combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Klaipeda, Lithuania. The plant uses municipal and industrial waste as well as biomass as fuels; it replaces old, natural gas-fired capacity and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 100,000 tonnes per year. The transition to waste-based energy production in Klaipeda has proved to be a more efficient solution than heat-only production; it improves the competitiveness of district heating and reduces the city’s waste management costs. The energy efficiency of the Klaipeda power plant is close to 90%, and it incinerates 230,000 tonnes of waste and biomass per year. The plant’s production capacity of 50 MW heat and 20 MW electricity covers about 40% of the city of Klaipeda’s district heating needs. With the flue-gas condenser, the plant’s production can be increased by 15 MW during peak consumption.