Could fuels made from fossil wastes reduce greenhouse gas emissions?


An increasing number of companies in Europe, the US and beyond are developing fuels made from waste plastics, household waste and waste gases from industrial processes. Their aim is for these transport fuels is to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Previous E4tech research concluded that the most important factor affecting the GHG emissions from these fuels is the alternative fate of the feedstock if it hadn’t been used to produce a fuel. New work by E4tech and Anthesis, published this week, investigates the existing fates of feedstocks such as municipal waste, waste non-recyclable plastics, and industrial gases. This information is then used to assess the GHG emissions of using these feedstocks to produce transport fuels. The research again showed that there is a wide variation in GHG emissions depending on their alternative fate. In general, the lowest GHG emissions are achieved when the feedstock would otherwise have been burnt for energy, but with low efficiency. How to treat these fuels remains a challenge for policy-makers because of the complexity of establishing the alternative fate of the feedstock, and ensuring integration with other waste and energy policies.

The full study is available here.

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