The MatER & Final Sinks Meeting 2021.

Once again, recycling and energy recovery must go together for sustainability

Prof. Stefano Consonni

Holding the meeting online was the dear price to be paid to the pandemic. An arrangement that didn’t hit attendance nor the effectiveness of the presentations, but that everyone at MatER hopes will remain a unique occurrence. Because at MatER we trust that not only is social interaction vital for an enjoyable life, but it is crucial to breed ideas and conceive effective actions towards a more sustainable future.

The sorrow ensuing from the cancellation of social events has been healed by the pleasure of the fruitful interaction with the Final Sinks community - a link that we hope can continue – in presence ! – in the 2023 edition.

The presentations given at the meeting have covered a wide spectrum of issues relevant to the sustainability of waste management and offered quantitative updates on a number of virtuous examples: from anaerobic digestion to the optimization of waste collection; from the recovery of bioplastic to the monitoring of mercury emissions from Energy from Waste (EfW) plants; from the recovery of EfW ashes to the carbonization of organic fractions generated by MBT; from waste-to-gas and waste-to-methanol to the end-of-life of electric equipment and batteries. On top of all this, intriguing theoretical speculations on performance indicators for the quality of recycling and the quality of LCA analyses.

Amidst all this, three pervasive messages. 

1) Waste management and waste treatment are the focus of a large, diversified community of researchers, which can provide the knowledge and the vision to dramatically improve the way we handle waste today. 

2) The way toward sustainability comprises two paths interconnected by many crossroads: one path is recycling, the other is energy recovery – and the crossroads are the synergies between material and energy recovery. 

3) Sustainable waste management is inherently multidisciplinary: the combined contribution of scientists, engineers, designers, planners, administrators, communicators is essential to do the job.

Stefano Consonni
Head of WtERT Italy and Co-Director of MatER (Material & Energy from Refuse)


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