The Current Situation of Waste to Energy and Towards Carbon Neutrality in Material Cycles and Waste Management in Japan

The incineration ratio of municipal solid waste in Japan is approximately 80%.

by Masaki Takaoka

The incineration ratio of municipal solid waste in Japan is approximately 80%. This is because municipal solid waste incineration has been developed as a countermeasure against infectious diseases, and during the period of rapid economic growth after World War II, the rapid increase in waste made it difficult to secure final disposal sites, and the demand for more volume and weight reduction caused the increase in the incineration ratio. Of course, the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) are promoted, but energy recovery is necessary for non-recyclable waste. Energy produced from biological waste, which accounts for more than half of municipal solid waste, is a type of renewable energy and can be regarded as an alternative to fossil fuels. Therefore, nowadays, waste to energy facility has been recognized as an energy recovery facility, which is a climate change measure. Waste power generation has risen from 7,210 GWh in 2010 to 10,153 GWh in 2020, despite the fact that the amount of waste has been continuously decreasing since 2000. Furthermore, Japan is vulnerable to natural disasters, and the disposal of disaster waste must always be considered. Disaster waste should be recycled as much as possible, but at the same time, a large amount of organic disaster waste such as waste wood needs to be treated as soon as possible to improve sanitary conditions in the affected areas, and in this respect, waste to energy facilities can serve as a base for the treatment of disaster waste. In other words, it can also serve as a climate change adaptation measure. In Japan, the Ministry of the Environment has developed a mid- to long-term scenario for the material cycles and waste management sector in 2021, with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Recently, greenhouse gas reduction scenarios of based on future waste generation, composition, recycling and treatment have been proposed. In that scenario, the future direction is also based on further waste reduction, promotion of the use of biomass materials, and promotion of plastic resource recycling, but even with many ambitious measures, there will still be residual waste to be incinerated and to achieve net zero in this sector at 2050, 6.2 million tons-CO2 of carbon capture in incineration plants have been required. Therefore, various technological developments and system studies are currently underway, including CO 2 recovery from incineration facilities.

Keywords: waste to energy, disaster waste management, carbono neutrality, carbon capture

published: Korea Society of Waste Management, 11|2022
Keywords: Energy Recovery, Mixed Waste, Japan