Environmental impacts of fly ash

Our new ash refining process increases the circularity of household waste, and the new plant also fulfils the new Best Available Technology (BAT) criteria in the EU. The old way of mixing the ash into cement and taking it to landfills is no longer a valid option.

Preventing salt from entering ground waters

Many environmental problems arise when salt gradually dissolves into water systems from landfills. Excessive salt contributes to erosion risk at landfills, making them unstable. In the worst case scenario, salt dissolves all the way to groundwater, which can cause a significant risk of salinisation.

In the first stage of our new refining process, the salt is washed away from the ash and dissolved into the open sea through a discharge pipe. This only slightly raises the salinity of the seawater in the immediate proximity of the discharge pipe.

The old ways of treating fly ash are not the best available technology

Mixing the ash into cement or treating it through stabilisation needs does not meet the EU criteria for best available technology. Neither one of these treatments meet the current landfill criteria without special permits that need to be notified and motivated to the EU. In stabilisation, waste is diluted by mixing it with other wastes, which is against waste legislation principles. Stabilisation methods also produce a high risk of dust emissions with the hazardous, extremely light dust material.

Treating fly ash without carbon-intensive cement

However, salt is not the only factor that needs to be considered when evaluating environmental impacts. Cement production also impacts the environment – and not in a very good way. Cement production requires fossil fuels and creates CO2 emissions every step of the way. Due to the production volume of the cement industry, it accounts for up to 8% of global CO2 emissions. If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world – after China and the United States. The old method of treating fly ash in Finland requires 23,500 kilograms of cement every year. With our new process, cement is no longer needed to treat fly ash. This results in a 27% decrease in the amount of waste that used to end up in landfills.

Interested? Contact our fly ash experts!

Jan Österbacka

Product Line Manager
Tel: +358503866100
jan.osterbacka@fortum.com

Ville Yrjänä

Director, Business Development
Tel: +358 50 337 3206
ville.yrjana@fortum.com