By Dr. Pedro Villegas

“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.” ―Pete Seeger

The global Wastes to Energy Market is anticipated to value 43.96 billion of U$D by 2024, according to a recent report. Growing requirement for alternative energy resources to conserve non-renewable fuels is anticipated to propel demand for Wastes to Energy (WTE) Systems. These WTE Systems are likely to reduce the amount of wastes produced from various resources and simultaneously generate captive energy and will propel the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Thermal and Biological are the two different technologies that could be used to generate energy from wastes. Thermal Technology have been dominating in the past years due to its simple process and operations. However, health concerns associated with gasses emission while implementing the technology is likely to become an obstruction for this technology. Thermal waste treatments have been proved to be 100% green. Therefore, to mitigate the problems that come with informal garbage burning, such as emission of toxic gases with organic compounds such as dioxins and furans; government and researchers must explore the possible developments with regards to advanced thermal waste treatment techniques. Appropriate and improved technologies are important as a strategy for tackling the environmental concerns in Belize.

On the other hand, Biological Technologies are expected to significantly growth in the forthcoming years. The anaerobic decomposition of solid waste to generate energy is the most widely known biological alternative.

To cater to rising demand for waste to energy solutions, most companies are focusing on Research and Development investments to expand these new and innovative methods. For instance, several countries in the region like Costa Rica, recently started constructing its new waste treatment facilities. These cost-effective recycling and waste processing solutions are likely to multiply recycling recovery across the region overall waste stream and produce low carbon renewable fuel. Facilities being constructed are predicted to begin operations in early 2019.

In another instance, the government of Mexico recently announced about new plant that can convert food scraps into clean energy. This community-based waste management is expected to be selected for development of this new anaerobic digester. Anaerobic digester can deploy bacteria in airless chambers to break down food and other material to convert it into natural gas. This natural gas can then be used as fuel to run vehicles and as electricity too. To make sure that the plant receives enough raw material in coming future, the government is expected to be working on a mandate to ask large companies and institutes to separate out their food scraps.

In the case of Belize there is a great potential at the Regional Sanitary Landfill at mile 24 of George Price Highway to generate electricity from municipal wastes at very low cost. Political will and proper management are key to convert these undesirable resources into energy and other byproducts.

The main advantages of these Wastes to Energy Systems or Technologies can be summarized as follows:

  • Increasing volume of industrial and domestic waste attributed to rapidly growing industrialization and population can stimulate growth of market.
  • Rising environmental concerns regarding use of non-renewable resources can influence market growth.
  • Shifting focus towards substitutes such as coal with renewable resources to diminish carbon content is expected to fuel market growth.
  • Growing adoption of waste management systems among consumers can augment growth of market.
  • Supportive government initiatives in terms of financial incentives and tax benefits are anticipated to propel growth of market during the forecast period (2019 to 2024).

If we want to be a better Country, we need to address unsustainable practices of waste management and start to strategize the adoption of green technologies to address Belize’s vulnerability to climate change in particular the impact of tropical cyclones and sea level rise by investing in technologies that generate energy from wastes environmentally friendly.

You can reach your own conclusions.

God bless Belize.

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