Incineration is the process of burning the waste generated in a district, town, city or county. Incineration developed as an alternative to using landfills. The world cannot keep on dumping the waste in landfills. The world will run out of landfills that way. From that perspective, incineration is a solution. But it has some different challenges, a few of which are quite serious and unnerving. Here are the incineration pros and cons.
List of Pros of Incineration
1. Better Waste Management
The first major advantage of incineration is waste management. The approach certainly makes waste management easier and more efficient. Incineration can burn up to 90% of the total waste generated in a chosen area. At times, the waste incinerated is more than 90%. Landfills only facilitate organic decomposition which doesn’t do much and artificial or nonorganic waste keeps accumulating.
2. Less Dependence on Landfills
Incineration reduces the need for landfills. Since up to 90% and at times 95% of the landfills is vacated after the waste in incinerated, it can be an ongoing cycle. The world doesn’t have to look for new zones for landfills. This is particularly helpful in urban parts of a country where the waste generated is overwhelming and there is significant scarcity of land.
3. Savings on Transportation of Waste
Incineration plans can be in the proximity of cities or districts so the waste wouldn’t have to be driven for hundreds of miles. The cost of transport is significant. The money could be spent on welfare of the people and sustainable development of the city, district or county.
4. Energy as a Byproduct
Incineration plants generate energy from waste. This energy can be used to generate electricity or heat. It can be used to power the needs of people living nearby.
5. Uncontaminated Groundwater
Incineration doesn’t add any toxic elements to the groundwater, as landfills do. Also, the chemicals that landfills leaks into the environment including the soil get averted.
List of Cons of Incineration
1. Not that Affordable
Incineration is not an inexpensive process, far from it in reality. The costs of building the infrastructure are substantial. The cost of running incineration plants is substantial too. One also needs trained manpower and dedicated staff to keep the incinerators running. All this adds to the cost.
2. Bad for the Environment
Incinerators generate smoke. The smoke from the chimneys includes nitrogen oxide, particulates, heavy metals, acid gases and the carcinogen dioxin.
3. Long Term Challenges
Incineration discourages recycling and waste reduction. That is not a wise approach for any society. The focus should be on how to reduce waste and to make the most of recycling. Simply burning everything we waste and no matter how more we waste will only cause further environmental damage.