Decarbonising energy from waste

Decarbonising energy from waste

Decarbonising energy from waste – carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS)


The UK has seen a major change in how residual, non-recyclable waste is managed over the last two decades. The shift from landfill to energy from waste (EfW) has helped to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from residual waste treatment and improve resource recovery.

However, whilst modern EfW facilities are clean and efficient, they emit carbon dioxide so, as more facilities are built, carbon dioxide emissions will increase.

Forward-thinking EfW plant owners, operators and investors are looking at solutions to bring their EfW plant operations in line with net zero targets and likely future legislation.


How can CCUS help to decarbonise energy from waste?

Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) offers a means to decarbonise residual waste treatment. CCUS involves the separation of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the cleaned exhaust gases. The recovered CO2 can be permanently stored underground or used in other industrial processes.

CO2 capture is well-suited to EfW as the process operates in a steady manner and is subject to stringent regulation, resulting in a relatively stable and clean exhaust gas stream. It is also possible to retrofit existing facilities with the technology. Furthermore, because a proportion of the CO2 emitted by EfW facilities is biogenic, the process has the potential to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

CCUS will play a crucial role in decarbonising waste in the coming decades. Whilst it may appear a long-term ambition, significant developments are happening now, aided by favourable political and commercial conditions. No wonder CCUS is something of a ‘hot topic’ in the industry at present.

What are the challenges around decarbonising using CCUS?

There are challenges to be overcome – technical, economic, commercial and regulatory. Most commercially operational CCUS projects are larger than a typical EfW facility, and factors such as plant scale, design and location have a major impact on feasibility. This means that the design and performance of a CO2 capture plant for an EfW facility may differ widely from one plant to another.

Despite the challenges, there are a range of carbon capture solutions targeted at the sector, and there are several EfW facilities currently deploying CCUS solutions.

How does Ricardo support decarbonisation for EfW?

Our experts have a wide range of experience across projects of differing scales, including practical experience of designing, implementing and permitting CCUS solutions.

If you are an EfW plant owner, operator, investor or regulator and keen to understand how CCUS can reduce CO2 emissions associated with residual waste treatment, Ricardo can support you with a range of services covering all, or part, of your decarbonisation project.

Technical services

Environmental/regulatory services

Sustainability services

Commercial services

  • Strategic support
  • Market review
  • Advice relating to incentives and funding opportunities
  • Contractual review/advice

Further information