Hot Issue and Burning Options in Waste Management: A Social Cost Benefit Analysis of Waste-to-Energy in the UK
The growing stream of municipal solid waste requires a sustainable waste management strategy. Meanwhile, addressing climate change and security of energy supply concerns require increased use of low-carbon and domestic sources of energy. This paper assesses the economic and policy aspects of waste management options focusing on waste to energy (WtE). We conclude that high levels of WtE and recycling are compatible as waste treatment options. We also present a social cost-benefit analysis of waste management scenarios for the UK focusing on specific waste management targets and carbon price. The results indicate that meeting the waste management targets of the EU Directive are socially more cost effective than the current practice. The cost effectiveness improves substantially with higher carbon prices. The findings show that WtE can be an important part of both waste management strategy and renewable energy policy. However, achieving the full potential of WtE requires development of heat delivery networks.
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