According to Phoenix Energy managing director Peter Dyson via the ABC, "Each time you put your own garbage bin out what you're putting out goes to landfill [and that equates to] 15 per cent of your own electricity needs and that's renewable." ; In contrast to the traditional process of waste incineration, "Any waste that comes into the plant... zero waste goes out of the plant...There is nothing that goes to landfill at all."
Waste-to-energy, also known as W2E, is a fast growing industry around the world. ; Of the 900 global plants in operation, about 300 are located in Japan and about 180 in France. ; There are 20 of these plants in Tokyo alone, with the Japanese people just as concerned about landfill reduction as they are about clean energy creation. ; Waste-to-energy solutions are known to reduce landfill by over 90 percent, freeing up valuable land space and reducing harmful groundwater discharges and methane emissions.
The Kwinana plant is expected to be operational by 2016, and will cost roughly $350 million to get off the ground. ; According to Dyson however, households will be better off financially, with a typical gate fee of $205 a tonne reduced to around $110. ; According to the latest press release from Phoenix Energy, “In order for Australia to meet its renewable energy target of 20% by 2020, renewable technologies such as W2E are crucial.”
Not everyone is convinced however, with Piers Verstegen from the Conservation Council saying: ; "It is premature to even consider waste-to-energy facilities in WA when there are so many opportunities to capture much higher value through conventional recycling." ; According to Verstegen, "Recycling materials such as plastic, metals and glass captures much greater value by allowing these materials to be used again and again, unlike waste-to-energy which destroys the valuable materials in waste."
Despite set up costs and ideological competition from reduction and recycling schemes however, there is little doubt that waste-to-energy plants will become part of our future. ; Waste generates a steady flow of energy regardless of weather conditions, and therefore offers some advantages over the intermittent bursts and climate dependant output of solar and wind power solutions. ; According to Dyson, Australia could sustain 20 W2E plants given its size and population. ;