Waste-to-energy where it is needed the most

Solutions are needed to convert waste to energy in humanitarian contexts around the world. UNEP DTU Partnership is working to create solutions, where waste management becomes a sustainable option supplying energy where it is most needed.

June 18, 2018

Waste management and access to energy services are important development issues throughout the world. In humanitarian contexts however, they are often not sufficiently considered.
Current solutions tend to address the immediate needs, but do not always consider the longer-term impacts and future needs.

Insufficient supply of energy and unsafe waste disposal, including pollution of water resources make public health threats and environmental problems even worse for people who are already at risk, generate instability and conflict between affected populations, and have disastrous consequences for their future livelihoods.

There is a need for a solution, that can convert waste to energy, addressing problems of waste management and access to energy at the same time.

In a new project, “Piloting Waste-to-Energy Solutions in Humanitarian Contexts”, UNEP DTU Partnership seeks to create long term sustainable solutions addressing just this problem.

Creating social impact

The overall objective of the project is to conduct three feasibility studies in three pilot countries and to prepare a business model for piloting small-scale, waste-to-energy solutions in humanitarian contexts.

Implementing waste-to-energy technology will not only solve issues of waste and energy, but also has significant social impacts.
It will reduce public health risks and stabilize household livelihoods by improving delivery of waste management services, access to energy and income generating activities.

The Project builds on UNEP DTU Partnership and UNDP expertise in creating sustainable business models in humanitarian settings.

Sustainable long term solutions

There is a need to identify viable waste management and energy supply solutions that can be applied quickly to a variety of humanitarian contexts. They need to address not only the immediate needs after a disaster or crisis hits, but also build resilience to future shocks and lead to a sustainable development path.

Small-scale waste-to-energy onsite solutions provide an opportunity to address both waste management and energy supply challenges in humanitarian contexts.

Waste-to-energy is regarded as key element for sustainable waste management in contexts where municipal waste cannot be effectively recovered and recycled, which is often the case in crisis and post crisis contexts.

The technology can substantially contribute to reducing methane emissions from landfills thus reducing climate change risk as well as the risk of pollution.

Three different settings

Use of Waste-to-energy technology has to be adapted to specific contexts, because of this the project covers three different humanitarian contexts in Jordan, Turkey and Tokelau.

These locations cover protracted crisis related to displaced and/or refugee populations in host communities and camps and remote small island state with limited resources and susceptibility to natural hazards.

Jordan: It is estimated that 1.4 million Syrians are residing in Jordan, the very large majority (90%) living outside camps. Increasingly so, municipalities are unable to meet the demands for basic services. One of the key challenges faced is solid waste management.
Turkey: The country currently hosts 3.2 million Syrians under Temporary Protection, the largest number of refugees in the world. There are severely limited financial and human resource capacity to address the increasing pressure on municipal services, a reality even before the Syria crisis.
Tokelau: Piloting Waste-to-energy in Tokelau enables the testing of the technology in a small island state context. Potentially it could create an alternative renewable energy source as part of disaster preparedness and resilience efforts, and address imminent challenges of waste management.

“Piloting Waste-to-Energy Solutions in Humanitarian Contexts” is funded by UNDP.