Waste Management Challenges
Solid waste is one of the major challenges large cities are facing and waste separation, recycling and reuse, especially transforming waste into energy, are becoming increasingly important. Over the last years, one can observe global refusal to continue dumping garbage at waste dumping sites.
In order to follow this trend, the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, is planning to initiate a number of waste management projects. One of these is the construction of a waste incineration plant in the near future.
To prepare for the tasks ahead, a Mongolian Delegation of 5 representatives of the National Development Agency as well as Ulaanbaatar Municipality were invited to Germany to gain experiences on best practice examples on solid waste management including waste incineration.
The study tour has been conducted in the framework of the GIZ “Integrated Resource Management in Asian Cities: Urban Nexus” project financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented jointly with Ulaanbaatar City between 21-28 October 2018.
Study Tour in Germany
During their trip to Germany, the delegation visited sites in Berlin and Dresden to get familiar with solid waste management systems and financing models. In Berlin, the delegation visited Otto-Rüdiger Schulze GmbH, a private company operating a waste separation factory. The company is being paid around 120 € per ton waste by waste supplying entities and pays itself around 60 € per ton fuel for separation factories, e.g. to cement factories. Plastic waste is processed into chips and also transformed into refuse-derived fuel (RDF) which is thereafter burnt in their own 5.5 MW incineration plant to generate electricity and additionally delivered to cement factories.
Strict environmental and emission requirements must be fulfilled concerning the incineration plant, in order to receive a license for the construction and operation. With regard to the financing of privately running waste separation and incineration plants, the company receives no subsidies from the government and tariffs. Fees and product prices are set according to the market demand and supply.
In Dresden, the capital of Saxonia (one of the 16 states/”Bundeslaender” of Germany), the delegation visited Veolia Umweltservice Ost GmbH and Stadtreiningung Dresden GmbH. Veolia Umweltservice Ost GmbH separates all kind of packaging materials like paper, cardboard, plastic and delivers it as raw material. This semi-automatic separation plant is part of the packaging materials collection system introduced in Germany in 1991. Since 1994 an ordinance for the separation of all other residential waste has been issued. According to this ordinance which came into effect in 2005, it is prohibited to dispose of untreated waste in waste disposal sites or landfills.
The large size waste such as household electric appliances, used batteries, tires, old clothes etc. are being delivered by residents to special collection points ('Recycling Hoefe'/collection stations) established by municipal public service companies. The disposal of untreated waste or disposal in places other than disposal sites is strictly forbidden and fined in case of discovery.
INTECUS GmbH, a consulting company specialized in solid waste and environmental management, gave a presentation to the study group on Saxonia’s waste management, it's structure and financing system. According to Mr Reichenbach, an expert of INTECUS GmbH: “Dresden City is among the leading cities in Germany with regard to the waste amount and percentage of treated waste per capita and it has chosen the biomechanical waste treatment system or waste composting method”. Other cities, for instance, decided to go for waste incineration systems. The municipal waste financing system is based on fees which are legally binding.
The waste fees in Germany are being classified basically in two types: constant and flexible. The flexible one consists of two parts: one is basic, another one varies depending on the service provided (e.g. waste pick up frequency and waste amount). Dresden residents pay an average of 58.80 € (MNT 170,000) per year for garbage collection, which is one of the lowest in Germany.
Regarding incineration plants, the mission visited EEW Energy from Waste GmbH in Premnitz located 60 km far from Berlin. This company runs 18 incineration plants all over Germany and is the biggest company in Germany in this sector burning 4.5 million tons of waste annually. The plant in Premnitz incinerates annually 200’000 tons municipal and industrial waste and supplies the city and the adjacent industrial park with steam and power.
For purifying the fuel gas emissions from combustion, high-tech filters are used. Also according to European and German regulations measurements are carried out regularly and submitted to the relevant inspection authorities. Extracted slag and filter ashes are being processed and disposed to underground storing facilities.
The electricity produced is being fed into the central grid and sold via the power stock exchange in the city of Leipzig (also located in Saxonia) at current market prices. The waste is incinerated at a temperature of at least 850° Celsius. With this temperature, harmful toxic substances such as dioxin will be destroyed. The maximum temperature reaches over 1000° Celsius above the metal “rust”.
Here some important data was given to the participants. The household garbage is charged by about 70 € per ton, the industrial waste is charged by over 100 € per ton on average. For the sludge disposal the plant pays 12-14 € per ton but for filter ash, it pays up to 80-120 € per ton. Generated electricity is sold at 40-45 € per 1 MW and 1 MW thermal energy is sold at about 20 €.
The private company running this plant does not receive any subsidy from the government. However, in case the municipality wants to build an incineration plant it might receive support from different designated funds of the European Union.
The National Development Agency of Mongolia intends to use the information and experiences gained from this trip for the construction of an incineration plant in Ulaanbaatar City through concession. Moreover, within this framework, it is planned to conduct a feasibility study on solid waste management in Ulaanbaatar with the support of GIZ Urban Nexus Project.