ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Waste-to-Energy and Recycling

Incineration-based waste-to-energy technologies have recently emerged as the preferred policy option for managing the growing problem of waste in India. These technologies require a continuous supply of waste inputs of sufficient quantity and quality—high calorific value and low moisture content—to be viable. Government and industry proponents suggest that WtE and recycling are compatible systems of managing waste while their critics disagree. This article argues two main points. First, the government’s preference for WtE contradicts the empirical evidence, which suggests that the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of Indian waste render it technically unsuitable for incineration. Second, to be viable, WtE technologies will require end-to-end control over the entire waste management chain, thus displacing those in the informal recycling sector from their means of subsistence. Far from being compatible, the two systems are in fact in competition with each other over the same set of material resources.
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