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What Happens To Non-recyclable Waste?


Recyclable waste in your home is typically removed by your trash removal service and taken to a recycling facility. When you sort out the recyclable material, you know you are making the right decision for the environment. But what happens to the non-recyclable waste? How is it treated and where does it go? Does all of it go into landfills? In this guide, you will learn about the use of the latest technologies in treating non-recyclable waste materials.


What Happens to Non-Recyclable Waste?

Some of the common recyclable waste materials include:

  • Bags
  • Wet cardboard
  • Packaging
  • Plastic cups/ disposal cutlery
  • Ceramics
  • Cling film
  • Crisp packages
  • Plastic cartons
  • Mirrors


There are two ways in which non-recyclable waste materials are treated.

  1. Energy Generation: A lot of waste that cannot be recycled is processed at special facilities to produce energy. The energy thus produces can be transformed into electricity.
  2. Landfills: The US produces over 292 million tons of municipal solid waste every year. In 2018, 49.99% of it went to landfills all over the country. So, you know where most of the non-recyclable material goes. A significant percentage of this waste comes from household waste recycling facilities.

The technology solutions for the treatment of non-recyclable waste are evolving, yet they are complex. They also vary in different ways. The good thing is they are all connected by a common goal. And it is to recover the most value from the waste.


Energy Production from Non-Recyclable Waste

The process of transforming waste into fuel is a tried and tested technique. This includes waste that cannot be recycled or doesn't biodegrade. The process is generally known as energy from waste (EfW). Your trash removal service will pick up the waste and deliver it to a facility that specializes in the EfW process. The basic steps involved in the process include:

  • Burning the waste
  • Producing the steam
  • Powering steam turbines to produce electricity

The power is then used for generating heat for local homes and businesses. Advanced facilities have special systems to control the emissions released during the burning process. These systems ensure that the air gets cleaned and purified before being released into the atmosphere. EfW is still much more cost-effective and safer than sending waste to landfills.


The EfW Process

Energy from Waste (EfW) provides a highly regulated technology solution for the transformation of non-recyclable waste into energy. Typically, your junk removal service can pre-sort the waste at the start of the process to remove any recyclable material that may have been missed. The rest of the material is then sent to an EfW plant.

Typically, the waste is treated at temperatures of more than 850°C. These plants can also supply hot water for both residential and commercial heating requirements. The facility can also supply high-pressure steam for industrial applications. Such a plant has a special name – a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) facility. It gets its name due to its ability to produce two forms of energy.

The EfW process reduces the volume of the treated waste by almost 90%. All remaining metal components are removed from the ash before it is sent for applications in the construction industry. New road construction is a common application in this regard.

Fly ash gets collected in air clean-up systems and undergoes specialized treatment. The gases produced are cleaned and the air particulate matter gets filtered. During the process, the emissions are closely monitored. It is ensured that the plant adheres to the regulatory environmental standards.

Studies show that an EfW facility can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 32% to 41% when compared to sending non-recyclable waste to landfills. Thus, a significant percentage of the waste will be used to produce electricity and heat for both homes and businesses.


Advanced Thermal Treatment

The non-recyclable waste material can undergo two types of advanced thermal treatment processes known as gasification and pyrolysis. Both use heat for treating the waste materials. The first method, however, uses a limited supply of oxygen and the second one is performed in the absence of oxygen.

Both the techniques involve pre-treatment of the waste to remove any waste that is incombustible. This usually includes glass and metals. Advanced thermal treatments can recover various chemicals and plastics that are reusable. They produce a gas that could be burnt to generate energy. Similar to EfW, the ash produced can be used in the construction industry. Just like the EfW process, the emissions are monitored to ensure they meet the environmental standards.

So, a wide range of technologies is used to treat non-recyclable waste to make the minimum possible impact on the environment. It is best to choose a residential trash removal company that has connections with such facilities to ensure your waste is treated in the best possible way. Find residential junk removal providers on JunkRemoval.


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