Alternatives to Incineration

So, if incineration isn’t as good as it sounds, then what are the alternatives?

Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) is a direct alternative to incineration, both producing energy and reducing waste destined for landfill. It is a process that mechanically sorts the waste, preferentially retrieving the biodegradable waste and burning the gases given off to generate electricity.


Renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal. Clean, but expensive. Wind power is quite effective in this country, but solar is not so effective. While there is no pollution produced it doesn’t prevent any waste from going to landfill.


Gas collected from sewage works can be used to power public transport and lorries, reducing the need to use polluting diesel fuel.


Recycling. By recycling as much waste as possible we reduce the amount that goes into landfill and the need to incinerate it. Incineration provides an easy way to dispose of waste and less incentive to promote recycling. Reusing as much as possible is the way forward, however recycling doesn’t produce any power from the waste that isn’t reused.

MBT v Incineration

The process called MBT (Advanced Thermal Technology) must not be confused with either biomass (usually to produce compost) or anaerobic digesters (used by farmers to produce their own electricity and compost).

Advantages of Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) with Advanced Thermal Technology over Incineration…

MBT plant is cheaper to build and cheaper to operate than an incinerator.

MBT GOOD: The only by-product is tar which can be used to fill in potholes and resurface roads.

Incineration BAD: There are toxic by-products as in fly ash (which goes to landfill) and bottom ash which is used in the construction industry, i.e. building schools, hospitals and homes.

MBT GOOD: The process uses large pods (a bit like in our stomachs) with anaerobic bacteria to breakdown matter thus releasing gases which are in turn combusted to drive a generator to produce electricity supplying the National Grid with little air pollution.

Incineration BAD: Incineration is not adaptable. All waste gets burned, producing toxic gases and toxins – most are produced when cooling down and starting up. See Health Hazards.

MBT GOOD: MBT is adaptable for recycling and a reduction in black bin waste. One of the pods can be shut down and restarted when necessary with no pollution.

Incineration BAD: Incineration can burn recyclable materials when there is not enough black bin waste to keep the incinerator going. It is an expensive business closing down and starting up and very polluting.

MBT GOOD: MBT employs more people in its operation than an incinerator.

Incinerators are old fashioned technology and are closing down in Europe.

It is a knee jerk reaction of the government to approve applications for incinerators because of the opposition to landfill when there is sustainable waste technology available.

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