A comparative assessment of waste incinerators in the UK

J.D. Nixon, D.G. Wright, P.K. Dey, S.K. Ghosh, P.A. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The uptake in Europe of Energy from Waste (EfW) incinerator plants has increased rapidly in recent years. In the UK, 25 municipal waste incinerators with energy recovery are now in operation; however, their waste supply chains and business practices vary significantly. With over a hundred more plant developments being considered it is important to establish best business practices for ensuring efficient environmental and operational performance. By reviewing the 25 plants we identify four suitable case study plants to compare technologies (moving grate, fluidised bed and rotary kiln), plant economics and operations. Using data collected from annual reports and through interviews and site visits we provide recommendations for improving the supply chain for waste incinerators and highlight the current issues and challenges faced by the industry. We find that plants using moving grate have a high availability of 87-92%. However, compared to the fluidised bed and rotary kiln, quantities of bottom ash and emissions of hydrogen chloride and carbon monoxide are high. The uptake of integrated recycling practices, combined heat and power, and post incineration non-ferrous metal collections needs to be increased among EfW incinerators in the UK. We conclude that one of the major difficulties encountered by waste facilities is the appropriate selection of technology, capacity, site, waste suppliers and heat consumers. This study will be of particular value to EfW plant developers, government authorities and researchers working within the sector of waste management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2234-2244
Number of pages11
JournalWaste Management
Issue number11
Early online date24 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Waste management. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Nixon, JD, Davies, PA, Wright, DG, Dey, PK & Ghosh, SK, 'A comparative assessment of waste incinerators in the UK' Waste management, vol. 33, no. 11 (2013) DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2013.08.001

The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance from South East London Combined Heat and Power Ltd. (SELCHP), Kent Enviropower Ltd. (Allington Quarry Waste Management Facility), Veolia Environmental Services (SELCHP and Tyseley Energy Recovery Facility) and NewLincs Developments Ltd. We would also like to acknowledge the support from the Royal Academy of Engineering, in the form of a Distinguished Visitor’s Fellowship for S.K. Ghosh and funding from the British Council under a UKIERI UGC Thematic Partnership.


  • energy from waste
  • incineration
  • waste-to-energy
  • green supply chains
  • municipal solid waste


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