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An Economic Evaluation of Incineration as a Residual Municipal Solid Waste Management Option in Ireland

Listed author(s):
  • Erik O'Donovan



  • Micheál L. Collins


    (Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.)

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    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Competitiveness Council (NCC) report that despite pressing EU policy requirements, Ireland remains heavily dependent on indigenous landfill capacity and overseas markets for its Residual Solid Waste (RMSW) reprocessing and waste to energy capacities. This deficit threatens Ireland's competitiveness and its environmental policy objectives. In the context of government revisions to national waste policy, economic analysis should underpin the policy choices used to identify indigenous RMSW management alternatives to landfill. This paper seeks to make a contribution to the debate by evaluating the RMSW treatment option of incineration by performing a cost-benefit analysis (CBA). The research demonstrates that certain configurations of RMSW incineration can provide a net benefit, relative to the status quo of landfilling RMSW in Ireland. In doing so, the study illustrates the sensitivity of an incineration project's benefits to its scale, operational costs and its capacity to recover energy. It finds that incineration does not provide a net benefit relative to landfill, if its scale and energy recovery capacity are insufficient. The methodology may be adapted to evaluate other RMSW infrastructure options e.g. mechanical, biological treatment (MBT).

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    Paper provided by Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics in its series Trinity Economics Papers with number tep1811.

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    Length: 40 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2011
    Handle: RePEc:tcd:tcduee:tep1811
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    1. Dijkgraaf, Elbert & Vollebergh, Herman R.J., 2004. "Burn or bury? A social cost comparison of final waste disposal methods," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3-4), pages 233-247, October.
    2. Kiel Katherine A. & McClain Katherine T., 1995. "House Prices during Siting Decision Stages: The Case of an Incinerator from Rumor through Operation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 241-255, March.
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