One of the biggest challenges facing the rapidly growing Waste-to-Energy (WtE) industry is maintaining the integrity of wrapped waste bales as they pass through its demanding handling and logistics process.
With global solid waste generation set to rise to more than six million tonnes a day within five years, according to The World Bank, the opportunity to burn baled waste for heating and power generation is growing, as the ability to incinerate without dangerous emissions is established. The fact that waste can be converted to energy safely, avoiding landfill and the methane emissions with which it is associated, has all-round appeal.
Ironically, some countries with a shortage of suitable waste have an abundance of incineration facilities while those with too much waste are under-supplied, so transportation of fuel in the form of wrapped waste bales has become a necessity.
Municipal solid waste (MSW) processed into solid recovered fuel (SRF) and refuse-derived fuel (RDF) is compressed into bales and wrapped. Rani Plast produces RaniBond waste wrap specifically for this purpose. Transporting the baled waste typically involves trucking, short term storage, shipping, further trucking and handling before reaching its destination.
The potential for damage is considerable and while torn bales and spillage can incur additional cost, there can be more serious consequences when it comes to renewing permits if bale leakage or odour harm the environment. So, the incentives to maintain bale integrity are clear.
Rani Plast believes the promotion of quality and a total understanding of the value chain are key to a safer, more efficient and reliable industry. Rani Plast’s Business Development Manager, Patrik Högkvist, said: “The WtE industry must demand quality throughout the waste bale process chain.” He encourages the WtE industry to establish a dialogue with Rani Plast to explore ways of improving quality.
Other businesses in the WtE industry agree. Mårten Eriksson, Head of Recycling and Recovered Fuels at Stockholm Exergi, which supplies more than 800,000 people and 400 businesses in the city with heating, cooling and electricity derived from incinerating baled waste, said that repeating the message about best practice for handling bales throughout the transport chain was essential. “For instance, wrapped bales can be damaged when fork lift trucks unload without stopping completely,” said Mårten, adding that everyone from stevedores and port authorities to those operating clam bucket cranes should be aware of the need to handle bales properly.
Jan Knutar, Sales Manager at Rani Plast, explained that RaniBond possesses the typical characteristics of blown extruded film such as strength, effective tackiness, excellent stretch qualities, allowing up to 70% pre-stretching, and is developed and tested specifically for waste wrapping machinery. Function, quality and sustainability are all fundamental to Rani Plast’s products.
Importantly, this summer, Rani Plast launched RaniBond EcoL, manufactured using recycled raw material which considerably reduces the product’s carbon footprint, something that is of growing interest to WtE businesses. Patrik Högkvist said that sustainability is a high priority in the waste industry and is not confined to the consumer goods business.
Mårten Eriksson welcomes the use of film manufactured using recycled raw material like RaniBond EcoL, which supports Stockholm Exergi’s own aim of pursuing sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint. He added: “RaniBond EcoL is a machinery specific product and it’s good to see a film that uses re-cycled raw material dedicated to the waste bale business.”
RaniBond EcoL has a notably lower carbon footprint compared with standard films. Patrik Högkvist said that development is ongoing and the company is targeting a zero carbon footprint for this type of film.