Open Access Original article

The potential of a sustainable municipal waste management system for Santiago de Chile, including energy production from waste

Tahnee González Martínez1*, Klaus-Rainer Bräutigam2* and Helmut Seifert2

Author Affiliations

1 Linde AG Engineering Division, Dr.-Carl-von-Linde-Str. 6-14, Pullach, München, 82049, Germany

2 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, POB 3640, Karlsruhe, 76021, Germany

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Energy, Sustainability and Society 2012, 2:24  doi:10.1186/2192-0567-2-24

Published: 20 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Due to a rapid urbanization process in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago de Chile (MRS), the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated has increased considerably within the last years. MSW should be managed properly in order to achieve sustainable development. The purpose of this study is to analyze MSW management in MRS on the basis of three different explorative scenarios for the year 2030.

Methods

The Integrative Sustainability Concept of the Helmholtz Association provided a conceptual framework for the study and was used to evaluate the scenarios. One important topic within the field of management of MSW in the year 2030 will be the contribution of waste treatment technologies to energy production, e.g., by the use of landfill gas and by separated collection of biowaste followed by anaerobic treatment.

Results

The largest sustainability deficits in the scenarios are the small proportion of MSW being pre-treated before final disposal and the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with MSW disposal. MSW management technologies taken into consideration were mechanical biological treatment, energy recovery from MSW in anaerobic digestion plants with biogas production, the production of refuse-derived fuel and its use as a secondary fuel, as well as electricity generation from landfill gas. Energy generation from MSW in 2030 will be about 6% of electricity consumption in 2010.

Conclusions

The three scenarios show some sustainability deficits. Even so, there are some improvements such as the reduction of GHG emissions and - even though marginal - energy supply for MRS from renewable energy sources.

Keywords:
Waste management; Scenarios; Sustainability; Megacities; Energy from waste