Solid waste incineration is used to combust the organic material that is in waste. This process converts solid waste into heat, flue gas, and ash. Solid waste incineration is the main alternative to landfills, which simply hold the waste in one place and don’t really do anything with it. The more modern incinerators will even separate out the dangerous gases and particles from the flue gas they produce.
Reduce the Volume of Solid Waste
Incinerators reduce waste volume by approximately 95 percent and reduce the solid mass of the original waste by 80 percent to 85 percent. (The exact percentage depends on the constituent materials of the solid waste). Incineration does not completely eliminate the need for dump space completely, but it significantly reduces the amount of space required. This is especially important for urban areas, who probably have many other ways that land could be used more productively.
Sustainable Energy Source
Solid waste can actually be turned into electricity. This process is called waste to energy incineration. In special facilities, non-hazardous waste can be incinerated in high-tech incinerators that turn that waste into electricity. This reduces stress on the power grid by creating sustainable energy and saves space in landfills.
Help Reduce Pollution
Studies have been done that show that solid waste incineration actually produces less pollution than landfills. One in particular compared a landfill and waste incineration facility of the same size. The study found that the landfill that was tested actually released higher amounts of greenhouse gases, hydrocarbons, non-methane organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants, nitrogen oxides and dioxin than the waste incineration facility that was tested. Furthermore, over time, landfills can release dangerous chemicals through surrounding soil into the underlying groundwater, which contaminates underground water systems.
Filters Trap Pollutants
One of the biggest concerns of waste incineration is that it will release dangerous toxins into the air, particularly a compound called dioxin. Fortunately, today’s incineration facilities use highly specialized filters to trap hazardous gases and particulates such as dioxin.
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