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

Author

Listed:
  • Erik O'Donovan

    () (IBEC)

  • Micheál L. Collins

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

Abstract

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).

Suggested Citation

  • Erik O'Donovan & Micheál L. Collins, 2011. "An Economic Evaluation of Incineration as a Residual Municipal Solid Waste Management Option in Ireland," Trinity Economics Papers tep1811, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tcd:tcduee:tep1811
    as

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    File URL: http://www.tcd.ie/Economics/TEP/2011/TEP1811.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cost-benefit analysis; Residual municipal solid waste; Incineration; Ireland;

    JEL classification:

    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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