EnviroCommsECC are part of the Integrated Waste Solutions consortium (IWS) that has developed an innovative, holistic approach to municipal waste management for low income and developing countries that utilises a floating energy recovery facility.

The IWS solution is rooted in innovation with a practical and relevant application of known, tried and tested technology.

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Improving waste management remains a priority challenge for governments as the high rate of population growth, urbanisation, migration, industrial and economic growth has and will continue to increase the amount of solid waste generated. Without addressing this challenge, countries face detrimental effects that reach far and wide and include negative impacts on tourism, health, inward investment and economic growth.

Many governments across the developing world have turned to the west for inspiration and seen examples of advanced waste management practices such as Energy from Waste technology that on the face of it, deliver solutions to both waste and power generation; another problem that faces many developing nations. The attraction to these types of solutions are obvious; they appear to provide a neat fix to many problems, they demonstrate obvious and visible intent that demonstrates to the people that the government are committed to improve.

The reality is that this approach seldom works. What offers a solution in the West does not always work elsewhere. The waste is different, infrastructure rarely efficient enough to guarantee the required regularity of feedstock and institutional capacity lacking in the ability to effectively govern the waste processes.

A common, contributory factor that compounds this problem is that the development of the individual components that seek to improve waste management are often developed in isolation from others, leading to a dis-jointed approach where there should be an integrated, harmonious approach across all aspects of a national and regional waste management programme.

The IWS approach tackles all these and other problems head-on with a complete, turnkey package that comprises the following:

  • Institutional capacity building
  • Organisational implementation
  • Waste governance
  • Containerisation, collection and transportation
  • Education, awareness and behavioural change
  • Recycling
  • Waste treatment
  • Energy recovery
  • Disposal

The floating theory

In the 1970s, James McTear; the inventor and visionary behind IWS and the FWERF, was one the world’s leading Marine Engineers working in the Oil and Gas sector. He had developed innovative, floating technology processes, technology that had previously been burden with the need for land-based solutions and the restrictions that come with such a need. By taking these processes offshore, substantial sums of money were saved; efficiencies were increased and is an approach that is now commonplace around the world within the Oil and Gas industry.

He considered what other processes could benefit from an off-shore scenario and quickly identified waste treatment and set about designing a system of energy production using waste as a feedstock with the plant situated on a floating vessel. At that time, the cost of waste disposal was not particularly high and energy costs were low so whilst there was interest, demand was low so the project was shelved but remerged in 2004 following interest from South East Asia.

The basic principal is to build and install an energy recovery and waste treatment plant on a floating vessel, which is semi-permanently moored within in a port. This approach offers a number of distinct advantages, including:

  • No need for land
  • Easier planning
  • Rapid deployment – up and running within 2 years compared to at least 5 for a land based system
  • Modular – as cities and regions grow and waste increases, additional units can be added.
  • Interchangeable – as waste changes and / or better or more suitable technology emerges, these can be introduced with reasonable ease.
  • Closer to the point of generation – land-based systems are typically sited many miles from city centres. The IWS approach reduces the distance waste needs to be transported
  • Sizeable asset – it is the largest financial component of the system and should conditions of funding be breached, it is possible to untether it and float it off site.
  • Cheaper than a land based solution. This enables the best quality components and manufacturing to be deployed.

For more information, visit the IWS website.