Home » Circular Economy » Waste-to-energy: powering the circular economy by taking us closer to zero waste

Jackie Keaney (pictured above, middle)

President, CEWEP Ireland

The traditional approach of landfilling waste is no longer sustainable. Waste-to-energy technologies offer a better way of turning waste into a valuable energy resource.

Ireland faces waste management challenges due to its growing population, limited landfill space and EU waste management targets. Our goal is to achieve a zero-waste and circular economy. However, we must acknowledge that certain types of waste cannot be recycled, such as materials that reach the end of their usable life cycles or contaminated waste.  

Transforming non-recyclable waste into valuable resources 

Waste-to-energy is a process that converts non-recyclable waste into usable energy forms, such as renewable electricity, heat or fuel. This process harnesses the energy content within the waste, transforming it into a valuable resource, producing a continuous supply of renewable energy when wind and solar power are not available. It can reduce the need for traditional fossil fuel-based energy sources and provide a sustainable alternative for energy supply and waste management.   

Ireland currently has two waste-to-energy plants: Dublin Waste-to-Energy operated by Encyclis and Meath Waste-to-Energy operated by Indaver. They reliably and sustainably generate 90MW of electricity and deliver power to over 140,000 homes and businesses around the country. 

Waste-to-energy is a key component in creating a truly circular and sustainable society.

Circular economy connection: less waste in landfills  

By converting non-recyclable waste into energy, these plants help close the loop and prevent waste from ending up in landfill, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preventing soil and water contamination.  

Additionally, they promote resource conservation and recycling through the recovery of valuable materials for reuse in the metal and construction industries. This benefits the environment, contributes to the circular economy and helps Ireland meet its waste policy target of no more than 10% of waste being sent to landfill. For these reasons, waste-to-energy is designated as critical infrastructure. 

Come joins us at our 2023 Congress.

Jackie Keaney, President of CEWEP Ireland, underscores the significance of waste-to-energy in achieving circularity:  

“At CEWEP Ireland, we are committed to supporting a circular economy and climate mitigation efforts to safeguard our planet … By converting non-recyclable waste into valuable material and energy resources, we not only reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but we also minimise the environmental impact associated with landfilling. Waste-to-energy is a key component in creating a truly circular and sustainable society.” 

A future with waste-to-energy plants  

In the coming years, Dublin Waste-to-Energy in Poolbeg will act as the heat source for Dublin City Council’s planned district heating network, while Indaver’s facility in Meath is exploring how to produce hydrogen from the energy it generates. 

Ireland’s waste-to-energy plants will play a greater role in the circular economy with both Dublin Waste-to-Energy and Indaver pursuing ambitious plans to ensure a better tomorrow.  

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