The increasing clamor for energy and satisfying it with a combination of conventional and renewable resources is a big challenge. Accompanying energy problems in almost all parts of the world, another problem that is assuming critical proportions is that of urban waste accumulation. Waste generation rates are affected by socio-economic development, degree of industrialization, and climate. Generally, the greater the economic prosperity and the higher percentage of urban population, the greater the amount of solid waste produced. Reduction in the volume and mass of solid waste is a crucial issue especially in the light of limited availability of final disposal sites in many parts of the world.
The quantity of waste produced all over the world amounted to more than 12 billion tonnes in 2006, with estimates of up to 13 billion tonnes in 2011. The rapid increase in population coupled with changing lifestyle and consumption patterns is expected to result in an exponential increase in waste generation of up to 18 billion tonnes by year 2020. Ironically, most of the wastes are disposed of in open fields, along highways or burnt wantonly.
The world’s view of waste has changed dramatically in recent years and it is now seen as a resource to feed the ever-growing demand for energy. The growing use of waste-to-energy as a method to dispose solid and liquid wastes and generate power has greatly reduced environmental impacts of municipal solid waste management, including emissions of greenhouse gases. The global energy market is witnessing a shift toward waste to energy technologies due to growing energy demands worldwide, the rapid depletion of conventional sources of energy, and concerns over environmental pollution from conventional energy sources.