- EURITS is the European Union for Responsible Incineration & Treatment of Special waste
- An association of hazardous waste management companies across the EU
- Eurits members have a total capacity of high temperature incineration of over 2.5 million tonnes pa; this represents 90-95% of the total capacity in Europe
- The EU’s leading voice on hazardous waste
- Over 20 years of experience in hazardous waste treatment
- Consistent promotion of best sustainable environmental practice
Since 1994, EURITS’ expertise has been supportive to the EU decision-making process: The Circular Economy Package, The interface between Chemicals, Products and Waste Legislation, Waste Treatment and Incineration BREFs, HAZBREF, The Waste Shipment Regulation, implementation of the EU hazardous waste legislation, etc.
The term "special waste" describes wastes that contain dangerous substances but are not necessarily legally classified as hazardous. Examples:
- In everyone’s household: Packaging and residues of paint, cleaning products, pesticides
- In small and medium enterprises: Waste from printing, cleaning companies
- In large industries: Waste from chemical, automotive, pharmaceutical, petrochemical industries
- In agricultural activities: Herbicides, insecticides, fungicides
- In construction and demolition industries: PCBs, treated wood, flame retardants, insulation, contaminated soil
- In the cleaning up of historical / new contamination: Sanitation of Bonfol landfill in Switzerland
Hazardous waste contains substances that are toxic for people and the environment:
- Reference by hazardous properties: explosive, flammable, corrosive, acute or chronic toxicity, eco-toxicity with or without bioaccumulation, etcetera
- Substances that can generate hazardous by-products on contact with air or water, eg. Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as Lindane & Dioxins
Hazardous waste producers are:
- Industry: majority of hazardous waste generation in the EU
- Households: Small haz waste: paints, herbicides, white spirit & batteries BUT containing specific substances like heavy metals, POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants), molecules causing cancers or foetal malformations or that result in the destruction of biodiversity
Specialist treatment encompasses:
- A facility designed for the purpose & dedicated to it
- Correct & compatible wastes storage
- Secured & controlled waste treatment facilities
- Understanding of the composition of the waste, its value, hazardousness and risks
- Making the right choices for treatment: maximising recovery, controlling risk
- Safe & correct handling/treatment by a highly-skilled and well-trained workforce
- Controlling risk
- Maximising recovery
- Minimising emissions
- Full traceability in 2 directions: to waste producers & final treatment
Appropriate treatment means:
- Decontamination of haz waste: Full destruction of contaminants thanks to dedicated procedures, infrastructures & technologies
- Recovery of valuable materials: By safe recycling & treatment, for the right level of protection & the highest quality of decontaminated materials
The only clear way to avoid toxicity or accumulation is the effective transformation or destruction of the hazardous components that defined a “hazardous” waste. The best way to ensure this is the use of a technology – for example high temperature hazardous waste incineration - which will destroy all (undiluted) hazardous components and contaminants completely.
The purpose of HWI (Hazardous Waste Incineration) is to destroy hazardous components and contaminants, and to thoroughly clean the flue gases and emissions that result from the incineration process.
A rotary kiln incinerates at temperatures between 1000°C and 1300°C. The incineration happens on a surface of liquid slags in a rotating furnace.
There are adjustable conditions within the rotary kiln to suit the type of waste and its contamination. The variables encompass temperature, turbulence, residence time in the kiln and throughput of waste.
Special operators control and regulate these parameters and use the technology to its best effect.
Plant, Equipment, Security and Staff meet all requirements of the Seveso Criteria
- Heavy Metals are precipitated within the slag or within the flue gas cleaning system.
- Volatile metals like Mercury or Arsenic are precipitated or absorbed by chemical or physical treatment.
- High contents of Halogens or Sulphur are captured and chemically converted.
Rotary kilns can accept many types of waste, and offers safe and efficient feeding systems for each of them:
- Hot and cold liquids and pasty waste: via lances systems
- Drums: via closed shredding units or directly into the kiln
- Solids: via cranes and conveyor belts
- Gases: via specific feeding lines
The calorific value of the waste streams can vary between 0 and 40 MJ/kg.
Toxic, Corrosive, Mutagenic or other extreme dangerous waste streams can be connected directly to the feeding system (closed handling).
Recycling of waste with special attention for its hazardous contaminants is not a new practice and is increasingly necessary to remove legacy contaminants. It has been done for many years (e.g. solvent recycling, batteries) but special care is needed. In order to avoid toxicity or ecotoxicity with or without (bio)accumulation, a separate treatment of hazardous waste in specialised plants is crucial.
It is critically important that consumers trust the materials and products coming from recycling. Therefore, it is imperative that specialist facilities work towards a non-toxic environment, avoiding the dispersion of pollutants in materials and the environment, by making use of the characteristics of hazardous waste incineration.
EURITS promotes three key principles:
- No dilution of hazardous waste and substances of concern
- Dedicated incineration of hazardous waste to effectively destroy pollutants
- Decontamination, which is part of the solution to achieve non-toxic material cycles
Recycling and HWI-decontamination go hand in hand, since there has to be confidence from manufacturers and consumers that the materials (material life cycles) are clean and that the environment is not harmed, either during or after recycling processes.
It is therefore essential that hazardous components, contaminants and toxic substances are removed, in order to preserve quality and value in the materials and to protect human health and the environment.
Recycling of household appliances
When recycling household appliances like refrigerators or air conditioners, it is of utmost importance that the refrigerants (gases) are removed, since they are Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). The gases are removed with a sealed hose into a large tank. This tank will be shipped to an incinerator, where the gas will be destroyed so that it can’t leak out into the atmosphere.
Recycling of plastics
When recycling plastics, it is important to keep an eye on additives that may be present in the products, such as bromine. Plastics containing high percentages of BFRs (brominated flame retardants) should not be recycled for reuse.
Decontamination, with appropriate tracking of substances of concern (SoCs), should be at the heart of the discussions on the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation, in order to protect quality, health and environment.
Hazardous waste can be broken down in to three fractions:
- A fraction where a recovery of energy is possible
- A fraction consisting of a material that can be recycled
- A fraction containing the hazardous contaminants that cannot/shall not be recycled
Before or during the recycling process, hazardous wastes have to be decontaminated from their hazardous unwanted fractions to protect the public, workers and the environment from exposure. This is because the industrial sectors and the public must trust that a product incorporating recycled materials/substances from waste is as harmless as a product that does not contain recycled materials/substances.
As for other hazardous waste, the contaminated fraction of treated waste has to be disposed of in dedicated facilities for the safe treatment of hazardous waste.
Hazardous waste incineration plants are usually the best choice to dispose of this contaminated fraction because they encompass:
- An efficient treatment process avoiding un-allowed emissions to the environment
- Strict management procedures for safe disposal
- Skilled and trained workers for safe disposal of the fraction
- Specific obligations from hazardous waste regulations and strong supervision from the authorities
When the decontamination is not performed prior to the recycling activity, hazardous contaminants are simply dispersed either in the environment or in the recycled products altering its properties and increasing its toxicity.
Dilution is the mixing of a waste with one (or more) other materials or wastes with the aim of lowering the concentration of one (or more) components present in the waste without chemical transformation, in order to allow the diluted waste to be sent to a treatment or recycling method which is not allowed for the non-diluted waste. In contradiction to dilution “decontamination” means any operation consisting of removing or treating the unwanted hazardous components or pollutants from a waste in a way that the pollutants should be destroyed or irreversibly transformed. Dilution is illegal under the Waste Framework Directive.
A direct and separate acceptance of non-pre-treated and undiluted hazardous waste guarantees the highest level of transparency. Mixing and dilution of hazardous waste conflicts with this requirement.
Mixing of waste is allowed only with the objective of obtaining an optimal mix for the treatment facility for which it is destined. Mixing (and possible dilution during the process) should therefore only be allowed for wastes that already have been accepted as such for a specific treatment technology, in undiluted form. The waste should comply with the acceptance criteria of the treatment facility BEFORE dilution.
Both the greenhouse effect and ozone depletion are due to chemicals released into the air by people’s activities. Another similarity is that CFCs are both ozone destroyers and greenhouse gases.
A number of natural and man-made mechanisms can affect the global energy balance and force changes in Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases are one such mechanism. Greenhouse gases absorb and emit some of the outgoing energy radiated from Earth's surface, causing that heat to be retained in the lower atmosphere. The gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxides, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
"Continued unabated, anthropogenic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions will further increase global warming, ocean acidification, desertification and changing climate patterns. Source: EC Knowledge for Policy - Foresight - Climate change."
Ozone depletion is a different environmental problem but is also caused by changes to the atmosphere caused by humans. CFCs are both ozone destroyers and greenhouse gases. It is important to notice that fluorinated gases are 29,000 times more impactful than CO2!
Fluorinated gases (‘F-gases’) are a family of man-made gases used in a range of industrial applications. Because they do not damage the atmospheric ozone layer, they are often used as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances. However, F-gases are powerful greenhouse gases, with a global warming effect up to 23 000 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2), and their emissions are rising strongly.
Ozone depleting substances are chemicals that destroy the earth’s protective ozone layer. They include:
carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)
methyl chloroform (CH3CCl3)
methyl bromide (CH3Br)
Production and import of these chemicals is controlled by the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (the Montreal Protocol).
The main uses of ozone depleting substances include:
CFCs and HCFCs in refrigerators and air conditioners,
HCFCs and halons in fire extinguishers,
CFCs and HCFCs in foam,
CFCs and HCFCs as aerosol propellants, and
methyl bromide for fumigation of soil, structures and goods to be imported or exported.
Ozone depleting potential is a measure of how much damage a chemical can cause to the ozone layer compared with a similar mass of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11).
CFC-11, with an ozone depleting potential of 1.0, is used as the base figure for measuring ozone depleting potential. The higher the number, the more damage a chemical can cause to the ozone layer.
Bromotrifluoromethane (halon‑1301) has an ozone depleting potential of 10.0. Carbon dioxide (CO2), a naturally occurring greenhouse gas, has an ozone depleting potential of 0.
The best way to deal with these gases is to regenerate them. If this is not possible, they should be destroyed. Hazardous Waste Incineration facilities are well-equipped to do so, avoiding their dispersion into the air.
In 2017, Eurits members facilities plants destroyed over 3.2 million tonnes of CO2 and GHGs. This is partially due to the GHGs avoided by generating energy from waste, but mainly because of the destruction of the ODS.
EURITS members treat 2,5MT of waste per year. This means 3,4MT tons of GHG’s avoided!