WASTE-TO-ENERGY (WTE) is the process of creating energy from waste which in Australia is typically sent to a big hole in the ground - landfill. Most WTE methods generate electricity through incineration and there are about 800 thermal WTE facilities that are fully operational and considered an integral part of the global waste management solution throughout Europe, Asia and North America.


Suspension magnets from STEINERT have been extracting iron and iron-bearing components from bulk materials for many decades. They recover clean iron scrap for recycling, and protect grinders, mills and other processing equipment against wear and damage.

Australia is still in the early stages of fully accepting alternative energy sources owing to its reliance on and abundance of fossil fuels along with experience in utilising its vast land mass for digging/finding big holes for the dumping of waste.

Currently, less than 1% of landfill in Australia is used in WTE processes, but this is starting to change. In Western Australia (WA), for instance, the State Government recently gave the green light for a WTE project in Port Hedland in the Pilbara region.

This region’s residential and commercial waste streams are estimated to turnover approximately 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes of waste per year and rather than going to landfill, this will be diverted into a Waste-to-Energy facility. The WTE plant is expected to produce enough electricity to supply approximately 21,000 households – thereby providing a renewable energy source which will help reduce the State’s dependence on fossil fuels and assist in providing a stable power supply for Port Hedland (1).

Waste-to-Energy is thriving throughout the world as a leading alternative process of waste disposal and energy supply. With the recent closures of some of Australia’s long-running and major contributing coal plants, especially in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, renewable energy opportunities such as WTE may be the unlikely benefactor. For example, Hazelwood Power Station supplies approximately 20% of Victoria’s power. The state needs something to take its place, so why not WTE?

Utilise MSW for fuel and reduce greenhouse gases

More than 20 million tonnes of waste gets dumped into landfills each year throughout Australia, most of which are legal sites, but there are still some illegal sites. While this waste degrades over time, it very often produces harmful gas emissions for many years after its disposal.

With WTE’s ability to reduce the volume of waste in an environmentally-friendly manner, generate valuable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is quite easy to see why many European nations rely on waste-to-energy technologies (2).          

According to the Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants (CEWEP), Europe currently treats 50 million tonnes of waste at WTE plants each year, generating an amount of energy that can supply electricity for 27 million people or heat for 13 million people.

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) along with Construction & Demolition (C&D) waste and Commercial & Industrial (C&I) waste are the three main sectors in Australia that can be rescued from landfill via reprocessing materials, ultimately for the recovery of recyclables and/or source of fuel.

The environmental reasons for the reprocessing of these materials are highlighted in the Victorian Recycling Industries Annual Survey 2013-14 - Sustainability Victoria’ (3):

  • Reduced greenhouse gases (methane emissions) from landfill and energy-intensive primary production processes;
  • Savings in water and electricity in the production of metal, concrete, paper and glass by using recycled feedstock;
  • Savings of raw materials, for example mineral ores used in virgin metal production and timber and oil used in paper production; and
  • Reduced groundwater and soil contamination from landfill, and the preservation of landfill space.

It can be seen that around the world that WTE plants can provide a distinct supply of continuous renewable energy. Every week the average Australian household waste bin contains the resources for both recycling and combustion – potentially producing enough waste to power approximately 14% of a household’s weekly electricity needs.

WTE is a real solution that requires consideration.

Maximise the value of WTE processes with STEINERT

Management of the human use of natural resources, waste minimisation and avoidance, and materials efficiency are some of the most critical challenges faced in modern times.

Waste-to-Energy (WTE) facilities are fast becoming an integrated approach to managing municipal solid waste around the world, and STEINERT sorting machines can help streamline the process.


Increasingly, customers are demanding continuous real-time analysis of the materials being used in the production of substitute fuels (SF) for thermal recovery.

STEINERT solutions can sort, separate and prepare material for your WTE systems while providing synergy with your objectives, such as materials recovery and/or fuel preparation. STEINERT works with some of the largest waste-to-energy companies in the world and can create a solution that is right for you.

Some of STEINERT’s equipment solutions for WTE are:

Magnetic separation – STEINERT NES; STEINERT NES 4T; and STEINERT Suspension magnets.

Sensor-based sorting – STEINERT ISS; STEINERT KSS; and STEINERT XSS.

UniSort – UniSort Analyser; UniSort Black; and UniSort PR.

Not only do waste-to-energy facilities reduce the amount of land used for landfills, they increase the amount of material diverted from landfill, offer additional revenue sources and provide a much needed alternative as fuel for energy creation.

Go to www.steinert.com.au for more information on STEINERT resource recovery solutions.


1. www.newenergycorp.com.au

2. www.alternative-energy-news.info/waste-renewable-energy-source

3. www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/publications-and-research/research.victorian-waste-and-recycling-data-results-201214/victorian-recycling-industry-annual-report-201314

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