Day by day our solid waste is accumulated in uncontrolled dumping lands and create very unpleasant and potentially dangerous environment. These dumps are frequently allowed to burn - either deliberately, as a means of volume reduction, or accidentally. However it create more hazardous environment for workers and neighbors. Although there are many solutions to solid waste management due to lack of land in our small island I firmly believe that we need a rapid volume reductive solution as one of major option to our problem.
Incineration is one of ideal volume reductive solution on solid waste and we can see many developed countries including Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany and France use this technology for handling their waste. In Sri Lanka the only place where we can see a thermal treatment on solid waste is Holcim cement kiln which can be consider as a rotary incinerator. When I was an undergraduate student I had chance to visit Holcim cement manufacturing plant. In several days of spend at that manufacturing facility I observed that the kiln of Holcim is used as clinker production unit as well as a waste burning unit. Due to limited capacity of kiln large queues of medical waste, pharmaceutical waste and security printing waste are held at Holcim kiln every day. This implies the existing potential for properly controlled incineration facility for waste management in Sri Lanka. When we consider the number of open garbage dumps there are more potentials to explore for incineration facilities in Sri Lanka.
Incineration is very effective as it brings fast solution to waste management and it also can be used as Waste-To-Energy (WTE) or Energy-From-Waste (EFW) technology. A 250-tonne per day incinerator can generate about 6.5 megawatts of electricity daily. This amount is enough to power up approximately 2000 average houses.
In order to implement incineration as a solution we need in-depth analysis of fuel types, various designs such as moving grate, fixed grate, rotary-kiln, fluidised bed or specialized incinerators. Gaseous emissions such as dioxin, furan and green house gases and material separation is also very critical factors to consider as health concerns are the major drawbacks in implementing this technology. Above mentioned areas are critical to study for the efficiency and safety of the plant in order to manage the plant to meet triple bottom line sustainability.