Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
You may be able to use your waste to recover energy or produce biofuel.
You can treat waste using thermal and non-thermal technology to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and produce heat, gas or electricity.
Energy-from-waste processes may produce waste by-products that need to be disposed of at landfill, such as ash or digestate.
The main technologies for producing energy-from-waste are:
AD can produce energy on a small scale. It uses bacteria to break down organic matter without oxygen in specially made digesters. See the page in this guide on treating or composting biodegradable waste.
Gasification involves heating organic waste with a reduced amount of oxygen and/or steam. It produces a synthetic gas, known as syngas, which can be burned independently in a boiler, engine or gas turbine to produce electricity.
Pyrolysis is carried out in the total absence of oxygen. It also produces an energy-rich gas and solid residue. These can then be burned separately to produce electricity. In some pyrolysis processes, the gases are condensed into a liquid fuel.
Incineration involves burning organic material such as waste to produce electricity and heat. Conventional waste incineration plants use the heat produced to generate electricity using a steam turbine. In some cases it is also possible to use the left-over heat. The government is encouraging the development of such combined heat and power (CHP) plants which may be able to provide your business with a source of heat, where the necessary transmission infrastructure exists or can be installed at reasonable cost.
Other ways of recovering energy from waste include recovering methane and mechanical or biological treatment.
Some landfill sites recover methane which is produced naturally when biological waste breaks down in the absence of oxygen. It can be used to generate energy. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and contributes towards climate change if it is not captured.
Mechanical and biological treatment composting units can also produce solid recovered fuel (SRF). There are concerns over the toxicity of burning SRF, which the government is trying to address.
You may be able to use waste to produce biofuel as an alternative to non-renewable fuels used for transport.
For information on permitting requirements.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.
Any person intending to alter the use or management of areas of uncultivated or semi-natural land must obtain prior approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
Read more on the DAERA website
The NetRegs team at SEPA, in partnership with The Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and a number of industry bodies have produced 9 new GPPs to replace out of date PPGs. More are coming! Check the available topics
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